True story: Vacationing Miami Beach homeowner returns to find house ransacked. Not much missing except one thing -- valuable painting, lifted off the wall and hustled away. Chances of recovery approach zero. Weeks later, somewhere in California, man purchases laptop computer via eBay. Receives computer. Turns it on, discovers many files, some personal. Thinks: Uh-oh ... must be stolen. Snoops around hard drive, uncovers likely owner's name and phone number. Calls. Miami Beach resident answers, confirms it's his computer, stolen weeks earlier. Beach guy calls cops, who contact California buyer, who leads them to eBay, which provides identity of seller. Cops contact seller -- a Miami pawnshop. Pawn broker, following Florida law, has record of kid who pawned stolen computer. Cops nab kid. They have a nice little chat. Kid decides to cooperate. They go for a drive. Kid points out various places he's pawned stolen goods. Cops pay a visit to one of them, I-95 Pawn. Caged in by bulletproof glass and iron bars, pawn broker, a burly biker with Glock semiautomatic strapped to his bountiful waist, displays surprising proficiency on computer. Quickly pulls up items kid has pawned. Cops scan printout, match items to stolen-property list. Start making calls. Burglary detective and owner of ransacked Miami Beach home drop in on I-95 Pawn. Gun barely visible beneath prodigious belly, pawn broker fires up computer, strokes chin whiskers, disappears into office, returns with large framed object, asks: Is this it? Homeowner smiles. Detective smiles. Pawn broker smiles. Yes, that's it. One last thing. Homeowner by law must buy it back for same price pawn broker paid: $55. Homeowner does so happily. Value of (undamaged) painting: $5000.
Get the Weekly Newsletter
Our weekly feature stories, movie reviews, calendar picks and more - minus the newsprint and sent directly to your inbox.