John Heller, a working photographer, was on assignment for Getty Images when his Nikon D3 camera and lenses were stolen from him at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood. He'd all but written off the $9,000 in ripped-off-gear, when he searched for his camera using a serial number search tool offered by theft recovery service GadgetTrak. According to the company, "He found an exact match with several images that were recently posted to Flickr."
With the help of police, Heller was able to track the images to another professional photographer through Facebook, who had unknowingly purchased the stolen camera from an individual and even had the receipt to prove it. The camera was returned to Heller and the police are currently investigating the individual whom it was purchased from, the investigation is still ongoing. This is the first time stolen property has been recovered by tracking the serial number embedded in images. We have also learned that thanks to this recovery, the LAPD is now recommending our tool to detectives and officers in the field.
Boing Boing editor/partner and tech culture journalist Xeni Jardin hosts and produces Boing Boing's in-flight TV channel on Virgin America airlines (#10 on the dial), and writes about living with breast cancer. Diagnosed in 2011. @xeni on Twitter. email: firstname.lastname@example.org.