Twitter helps break news and aid in political uprisings, but after one guy helped recover the stolen laptop of a stranger he followed on Twitter, it seems the social network is also going to revive a dying breed: the vigilante.
After Sean Power had his laptop stolen in New York City, he used the awesome (and FREE) tracking software Prey to locate the laptop, obtain his Skype name and snap a screenshot of the culprit while he was using it. Unfortunately, he was able to file a police report before having to leave NYC, so when he finally tracked down his computer, the Police more or less refused to help him. That's when he started tweeting.
What ensued was a flurry of tweets from followers who dug up all sorts of info on the accused, while spreading the word. A female friend of Power's was already at the bar, but was hesitant to try and handle the situation alone.
But a complete stranger to the situation, Nick Reese, happened to be in the neighbourhood where the laptop was located. After receiving links to the unfolding saga, debating whether or not to help, and having friends prod him, he finally hopped a cab, went down to the bar.
Once at the bar, he casually confronted the thief (who worked - or possibly owned - the bar where he was using the computer), and got the laptop back with little resistance, scoring a victory for Twitter nerds everywhere. There's a whole, chronological Twitter stream here, detailing what went down in realtime. And it's a pretty entertaining story to skim through, involving highs, lows, moments of doubt and multiple characters.
And internet, can we keep crowdsourcing all our law enforcement needs? With local police squads going bankrupt all around the country, I'm all about a bunch of shadowy, hockey-masked randoms popping up to save the day. [Sean Power and Nick Reese via Storify via CrunchGear]