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My weekend as a detective

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It’s always bad form to steal, and particularly bad form to steal from a priest while he’s preaching the resurrection at a funeral.

Karma caught up last night with at least one of the poor souls involved in the caper. It made for quite an adventure and yet another commercial for the superb designs of Apple products.

After commending to our Lord the soul of one of the saints of our parish, I did as I always do, almost: took off the vestments, walked back to the study to retrieve the iPhone (which serves as my watch), and joined the fellowship in the Great Hall. Only this time I never made it to the reception. When I reached my study, I noticed my phone was not where I remembered putting it. Silly me. Checked my car. Not there. Wondering if I might have left it in the sacristy, my eyes absent-mindedly moved to floor-level. My Bose home theater system wasn’t there – the system I set up regularly in the church or fellowship hall for presentations involving video. Hmmm. Heart in mouth. Turned in trepidation to the chair in which I had deposited my backpack when I arrived for the funeral.

A four-letter word. No phone. No sound system. No backpack. And therefore no iPad. And, worst, no 17-inch MacBook Pro. No dissertation. Another four-letter word. Or two.

A thief wiped me out while I was preaching. And I had to prepare for our Saturday evening Eucharist in just over an hour. So glad I have a loving congregation who will understand if I’m a bit distracted while preaching Luke’s gospel.

Wonderful friends. Kind, loving friends. Eat a bagel, Craig. Here’s some water, Craig. Pray lightning will strike him, Craig. I’ll give you peace of mind, tonight, Craig. Wonderful friends.

Was actually present while preaching at the two Sunday services. Not just present, but thoroughly blessed, as always. A thief forgotten. “Do this in remembrance of me” crowds out the little things. So does meeting with awesome teens to remember our summer mission trip with a slide show. The big picture is like a mustard seed.

And then along came the thief. Or at least his friends.

I was talking with my daughter in VA about Dad-daughter things, being blessed by her dreams as I always am, while absentmindedly scanning emails on a borrowed laptop. Since the theft, I’d been checking out the Apple iCloud “Find My Devices” site which is primarily aimed at helping you discover where you misplaced your iPhone in the house by generating a loud beeping noise. I turn this feature on for all my Apple devices. While talking to my daughter, suddenly I noticed a change in the device that formerly was called “Craig’s MacBook Pro” and which had only shown the status of “offline” since the theft. Suddenly it was online. Only now it was renamed, “Genevieve’s MacBook Pro.”

Hung up with my daughter. As instructed, dialed 911 to be routed to the investigating officer on my case. He’s got other priorities -much more important than recovering my materials. But hours later, he’s on the move.

With Apple’s Find My Devices feature, I was able to see a satellite image of the house from which the signal for my laptop was emanating. He called. “Is there a vacant lot on the corner of the street where this thing is?” “Yes, officer. Walk north past the vacant lot, and you will see two large trees on your right. Turn right after the first tree, and you will be in the driveway.” Like calling in air support, I was routing my very own police officer to my very own thief.

He calls me from the steps of their house. We agree that, once inside, I would remotely cause my machine to beep to help him locate it if needed. Hangs up. My wife, daughter, and I wait, filled with adrenalin, trying to imagine the scene unfolding inside that house. Was there a Genevieve? Was my equipment there? Did this Apple stuff work? And what would she say now about the karma of robbing from a priest during a requiem mass?

The phone rings. No need to trigger the beeping noise, because the occupants of the house had my laptop in plain sight, with my login – including a photo of me with clerical collar – just above the ones they’d added for themselves. Whew!

At about 11 pm, I had my laptop – with my dissertation intact – back in my possession. The officers say I am unlikely to recover the iPad and iPhone because thieves can easily wipe the devices, disabling the tracking on them. But the tracking on my laptop made all the difference. With ample cause, we toasted Steve Jobs at my house Sunday night.

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