Red Tettemer is a Philadelphia based agency, and this story comes from their SVP Executive Director, Carla Pillo Mote, whose company computer, taxes and wallet were stolen by a drunken financial planner. She was able to get it all back hours later thanks to Facebook and a little creativity, but not before a run-in with the cops, a dog was peed on and a well dressed financial planner realized he might have a drinking problem.
It all happened on March 13 when Mote and a friend were out for drinks at a local Philly eatery. Mote sat at the bar, her chihuahua in a carrying case to the left of her stool, her computer bag containing tax info and wallet to the right of it. Her iPhone rested on the bar, also just to her right but within eyesight. To her left sat her friend Stacy.
As the two sipped wine, chatting and catching up, a suited young man sat down to the right of Mote. He was visibly intoxicated, she says, and almost immediately he started behaving oddly. “His hand kept inching toward my iPhone,” she said, “and I sort of looked at him, but he kept doing it.” It seemed like the man was going to steal her phone, so after the third time his hand drifted toward it, Mote picked the device up and set it between herself and Stacy.
The night went on, the bar-restaurant filled up, the man got more drunk. “At one point I heard the bartender say to (the perp), ‘I’ll serve you food but I can’t give you any more drinks’, so the guy was definitely wasted.”
Then the dude got up to leave. But Mote said she could feel him awkwardly shuffling around next to her at the crowded bar. Little did she know he was preparing to drunkenly steal her computer bag, with taxes and wallet inside. Did we mention she’s a senior level staffer and the computer contained delicate data? She is, it did.
By 9:15-9:30pm, Mote and friend had wrapped up their conversation and were ready to leave. Ta da, the bag was gone, and based on the drunk guy’s oddness, Mote’s inner detective sensed the guy who had been next to her was to blame. So she asked the bartender for the guy’s name — he had used a credit card. He gave it to her, so she ran to the front desk and asked if there was a phone number for, we’ll call him, Melvin Bransky (we made that name up) — there were two numbers, one local and another from St. Louis (the man’s city of origin has also been changed).
Mote posts on her Facebook status:
The police were called, a report was filed, Bransky’s name was given as a suspect. They’ll send a detective by later, the cop says, and Mote heads home. Meantime her colleague Jamie, who happened belong to a St. Louis network on Facebook, saw Mote’s status and did some digging. Some call it Facebook stalking, but in this case it seemed warranted.
Jamie unearthed a few details about the St. Louis Bransky, and sent a Facebook photo of the guy to Mote’s iPhone. “It’s him!” she exclaimed. The guy that sat next to her not an hour before had been identified by Facebook. Awesome. Jamie mentioned that he looks drunk in pretty much every Facebook photo. Mote also learned that Bransky is a financial planner with a major company. Oh boy. He went to Syracuse.
By that time the detective on duty called to see if Mote would be willing to ID the guy from a few identification card photos they had on file. She agreed.
While the detective was en route, Mote Googled Bransky’s name et voila, she found an address.
Just then the detective showed up with an ID photo matching St. Louis
Bransky, and the whole scenario started to get a lot clearer. Unfortunately for Mote, nothing could be done until 4 pm the next day. Warrants were needed etc. But by now Mote was convinced the guy didn’t really steal it, he just had a clepto moment. So she thanked the officer and his stoic, JJ Evans sidekick, and they left; but she and Jamie plotted.
It turned out Bransky lived just minutes away, so Mote hopped in her car in sweats, Uggs and a super-sexy hair clip and headed to Jamie’s place. The pair drove to Bransky’s apartment, unsure of how they’d obtain her stuff but determined to investigate further. But what would they find?
Click continued to finish the story.
The Stake Out
Shit, doorman. Outside the building, Mote and Jamie are unsure how to slip past the pseudo-sentry. Just then a couple walks by them toward the building so they hop in line, Mote on her phone, and the doorman presumes the pair are with the couple. Nice.
But they’d be foiled again moments later when inside the building they spied a front desk, manned by two Ritz-bits munching receptionist types. The nibbled their treats delicately with long acrylic nails, faces emotionless. They’d have to be confronted in order to get to the elevators. Mote fibs, “We were out with our friend and he got drunk and accidentally put my wallet in his bag. Could we slip up and get it?”
One of the desk workers, “You mean the guy with the little dog? Yeah he’s always drunk. Well, we’re not supposed to let you but go ahead.”
Mote and Jamie spend the next 35 minutes pounding on the guy’s door. Nothing. The TV is blaring and they can hear some kind of dog barking inside. “He was so drunk, he probably hadn’t let the dog out,” Mote remarked.
With no other option the ladies solemnly head back down to the front desk. They’ve decided to fess up and hope that the front desk pair will have a better idea. So Mote retells the story of her night, and before she could finish one of them turns to the other and says, “Oh we have to get your bag back. Let’s call the super — he’ll get it.”
A half-stoned looking super ambles into the lobby. He’s told the story, “you mean the guy with the little dog? Yeah I’ll go up there.”
A minute or so later the super radios down, “He says he doesn’t have it.” Knowing he does, Mote seizes the opportunity — she and Jamie bolt for the elevator. The desk girls yell at them to stop (now that it’s known they don’t “know” Bransky, they’re not allowed up). The elevator door opens, Mote and Jamie slip in just barely closing the doors before they could be stopped.
Back upstairs, the super is standing in front of a man in his boxers. Next to the man is a small dog. Mote confronts Melvin Bransky for the first time since the bar. Just as she starts talking, he pees himself, right there in the doorway of his apartment. The urine spreads and fills in around the dog’s feet. It’s gross. Beyond Bransky, Mote can see her bag. She shuffles past the now pee soaked guy, steps over his mess, and grabs her things.
Before heading off into the sunset Mote takes the opportunity to tell Bransky to get his shit together.
Maybe the best part of this story is that the next day, Bransky has no recollection that any of this happened. At some point in the evening Mote had friended Bransky, thinking maybe she could just connect with him that way. It never happened, but Bransky accepted the request the following day. At that point, Mote retold the whole story. Apparently the guy feels awful about the whole thing and offered to make it up to her a thousand different ways.
After getting her stuff back, Mote called the detective and told him she didn’t think the guy was a danger and that her property had been retrieved. The officer thanked her for saving the city some money, and that was that. Bransky would not be contacted by the police.
As a financial planner, the guy’s career could have been badly damaged had he been arrested. Mote’s bad night could have been much worse for Bransky, but the SVP exec. director decided not to make things any worse. A drinking problem (or what she perceived as one) is hard enough to deal with.
In the end what’s interesting here is that Mote was able to track down the thief faster than the police. And she was able to resolve the problem more efficiently than them, too. Maybe social media has more to offer than we thought.