On Salon, Amanda Enayati wrote an engrossing piece about how she used the Web to track down a man who broke into her car, stealing her wallet and other items.
See, aspiring thief, you just never know what you're stepping into when you hit up a random car on a random street. However badass you think you may be, there is someone on the other side of the robbery. And in this particular case it was someone who escaped the Iranian Revolution as a child; who roamed the world alone for five years because her parents couldn't get out; who watched from a dozen blocks away as the twin towers crumbled; who had just barely clawed her way out of that concentration camp known as late-stage cancer, if only because she was intent on raising her babies, come hell or high water. And all of this before she even turned 40. Can you see how that someone might be way more twisted than you?
By the end of that first day, I knew what the thief looked like. I ran his e-mail address through a reverse e-mail finder, which cost me about 15 bucks for a month's worth of "surveillance." There was no information about the address — except he used that same e-mail to sign up for a low-rent dating site about a week or two before and had made the colossal mistake of uploading three pictures of himself and three pictures of his girl Amberley, with a heart tattoo on her right boob. He was a tall linebacker type with an emerging belly and piercing blue eyes that seemed to issue a dare. He looked vaguely neo-Nazi, but maybe that was just the blond buzz cut.
He had not posted his whole name. But I knew what I had to work with: John F, Caucasian, 23 years old, from San Mateo. His moniker: Johnny Boi.