BUSTED! Recap of how I caught the thief

A little over a month ago, I had a roommate move out of my house and steal about $2500 worth of gear.
Including a DSLR camera that was only 3 weeks old. I wrote a blog about the situation, what happened and how it had affected me and my trust in people. You can read about that here: https://experienceviaimagination.wordpress.com/2014/03/29/trustin-lads-may-be-my-downfall/

In the month that followed the theft, I contemplated having another roommate? How secure my home was? And how comfortable I was just letting this person go, not looking for her or trying to track her down.

I was certain she did this for a living. Basically, she posts an ad on Craigslist, saying she needs a place to stay month-to-month, and that her “Agency” is moving her to town, and will be bringing her stuff within the next month. That way there’s no expectations with why she has so little belongings, and how long she actually will be staying. She then will try to delay paying rent, with the expectations that she can rob you before actually giving you any money.

She’s a low-level con artist, a Petty thief. Takes what she can grab of value and moves on. Gives you a false name, and disappears. Most people just give up, claim it on their insurance and pretty much accept the loss. She goes on, tips off another person and probably skips town when she starts feeling heat or has drained as much as she can.

I wasn’t willing to just her go. Maybe it was because my insurance wouldn’t cover the loss. Or maybe it was because I just care for thieves. That I’m not going to allow someone to enter my home out of the goodness of my heart, and walk out with my hard earned belongings. So Gina and I monitored Craigslist for another ad, scanning for the items stolen. Low and behold, she was actually stupid enough to post another ad, same name, same thief number.

So I texted her regarding the room for rent. She had my personal number, so I had to use a secondary phone I have. This phone is an older phone, a flip phone. Do you know how hard it is to text on a flip phone? Maybe 10 years ago I could’ve done it fast and accurately. But now..? I’ve become spoiled apparently. “Long is the road and hard, that out of Hell leads up to light.” -Dante

I waited and waited. And her initial reply, stated that she had found a place but thanks anyways. I felt like, at this point, I knew how to her mind worked. So I told her I was a single guy, who worked two jobs and was hardly ever home. Someone that desperately needed a roommate to help pay the mortgage. And if she knew anyone else who needed a place to stay, to please send them my way. About a week later, she responded saying she had a friend who is looking for a place to live. So we bantered back-and-forth for about three weeks. I was trying to give her the feeling of security, the feeling that I was trying to get to know her. Basically dating her into learning about who she thought she was going to be moving in with. Giving her the thought she had opportunity. An easy target, someone who could easily be taken advantage of and ripped off. She took it… Hook, line and sinker.

She asked the normal questions. How much is rent? Where are you located? Is the room furnished? My answered were simple. Mostly because I knew exactly what she wanted to hear. Cheap rent, under $300. In the Sugarhouse/Liberty Park area. And yes, it’s furnished. And so she pursued. When can we meet up? I told her I wanted to meet for coffee before bringing her back to see my place. “As I don’t know you, I want to make sure you’re ok.”

A few days later my good friend Shawn Parry from Tetonsports met her at a coffee shop. I was parked across the street casing out the situation. And it took everything I had not to walk into the coffee bar and confront her. The plan was to follow her home, then decide what to do.? I knew she would be without a ride, so Shawn and I discussed it and he agreed to give her a ride if she needed one. She took it, but had him drop her off downtown at an office high rise. Said she worked there and needed to finish up a few things for work.

I met Shawn back at Teton HQ, and he told me what he had learned. She filled out a background check form. And told him she was really into photography. So he asked, “Do you have a Nikon or a Canon?” She replied “A Canon”. I still had hope of getting my camera back. And she wrote down an address on the background form. So I immediately went to the neighborhood, parked down the road, sat in the backseat of my vehicle and began casing the house.

With nothing to do but wait, I got onto my iPhone and began searching the name, SSN #, address and DL # she gave… Nothing. I was certain everything she wrote down was BS. Including the house I was waiting near. It was raining in SLC, so I exited my vehicle, placed my jacket and hood on, and walked the street. Carefully, I passed the house a few times and noticed that the street address she have didn’t exist. Now what? How could I bait her again? She thought Shawn was doing a background check and everything she gave him was BS. What can I do to make her still be interested and believe I was ok with her moving in?

Shawn and I discussed it again. We decided to tell her that the background check would take 2-3 weeks to go through. That I needed someone to move in before I left for china at the end of the week. And that if she worked for the CIA, then I’m certain they did their homework on her background. Plus, “you seem like a nice enough person, I got a good vibe about you when we met” I told her. Once again, she took the bait. I knew her greed would overcome her suspicion. The fact that Shawn would be leaving for China at the end of the week, and would be gone for two weeks was too good of an opportunity to pass up. I told her she could come by and look at the place, and if she was still interested it was hers. And she agreed.

I had another friend from work named Arie, who said we could do the set up at his house. He was gung ho, ready to take some revenge on this lady. But after a conversation, we decided to ask his cousin who is on the SWAT team what the best course of action would be? He told us to contact the Taylorsville police department, and asked to talk with the detective in charge of the case. He should be able to meet you at the house and make the arrest if possible. So that is what I did. Upon talking to the detective, I learned that the black-and-white officers had only reported that she stole $100 from me. WHAT THE HELL!?!? I was extremely upset, I informed him of all the other items that were taken. He told me I needed to stall her, spread it out and make her wait another day or two. In the meantime send him an email with all the information of everything she took. He did his own background search on her, nothing came up. When I told him about how she says she works for the CIA, he was really intrigued to meet her, to interview her, to find out who she was. so we set up the stain for the next day at 5 PM. He informed me for the third time, that “this is only based upon what she has on her. If she has nothing on her or does not admit to this, there is nothing he can do that justifies warrant.”

The night before the stain, I was texting her back-and-forth to give her the sense of comfort. And casually brought up how my work was looking for a new DSLR camera to take shots of product. Hoping she would bring the camera with and be willing to sell it to me. That’s when she dropped the bomb. She informed me she had just sold her DSLR camera that weekend for $450. I was unsure if I even wanted to contact the detective now? Because really what could he do? He would question her, he would have no proof, and she would get off Scott free. Probably skip town because she knew, at that point the heat was on her and once again she would get away. And I absolutely did not want that to happen.

So I debated in my own head, what kind of person are you? What kind of person do you want to be? Should I handle this on my own? At least that way I could get some sort of “vigilante justice”. Do I have it in me to take my own revenge? Or should I trust in the justice system and hope for the best? Now some might think that I’m angry? And yes I’ll admit, that immediately following the incident I was extremely irate. If I had found her then, I wouldn’t have called the police I would have handled it my own way…

I opted on contacting the detective. Letting him know it was going to go down at 5 PM on Wednesday. When he arrived at the house he told me to have his number on speed dial, as soon as I saw her out of the window to call him he would grab her before she even got to the door. And that’s exactly the way went down. The look on her face was priceless when he pulled up and started to question her. She realized she had finally been the one who’d gotten screwed. Unfortunately, he did not find any of my belongings on her. But he did find other items that I’m sure were stolen, probably from the person who’s house you just skipped out of. Plus he found prescription drug paraphernalia on her, with no prescriptions.

The detective informing he was taking “this person” to jail, and to be by my phone with my line open. He would call me later with the details. A few hours later the phone rang, and he began to tell me what would become of the thief. He said she was being charged with four felonies, one for theft and three for possession. The only thing she admitted to stealing from me was Gina’s hard drive, probably because it was only $130 and she knew it had to be over $500 to be considered grand theft. Which makes it a felony. What she didn’t know, is that since she had two prior theft charges in Oklahoma, this stuff chard automatically becomes a felony charge. He informed me that her name was not Kiera Tretiakova, that her name was Chalon Miller. When they did a search on that name, it came up empty as well. He went back to her and told her that he knew she still was not being honest with him. And he needed to know who true identity. That’s when she told him that she was actually born Jeffrey Miller. She had her sex, and name legally changed a few years back. Upon hearing this news, Gina’s eyes immediately became the size of silver dollars. She said I just thought she was a lesbian? And I replied to the officer “I’m not surprised.” You see, she always seemed very manly. Honestly I didn’t think that she was just a lesbian. But she did seem a very manly lesbian.

The other unfortunate part about the whole story is that her partner will get away Scott free. There is nothing they can pin on the partner, because the partner never lived with me so they don’t know if she was ever involved in anything. But we all know they work as a team and they both do this to other people. I only wish I knew the partner’s name, or whereabouts so I can inform whomever they are currently scamming at this moment.

In the follow up on the entire situation is this. Yes I should be more careful with who I allow into my phone. Yes I should be more careful with who I decided to roommate with. But the reality is, most times are roommates are people we’ve never met, or a friend of a friend. And in most cases, it’s usually someone you know who cheats you. But I am getting a new roommate. It is a friend I have known for over 10 years, and she’s a trustworthy person. So no worries there.

After hearing the news of my loss, I received many condolences from many people. Mostly telling me how good of a heart I had, and how wonderful person I was to allow someone into my home. And that I did not deserve what happened. And though I appreciate them all, and thank everyone for the kind words. None was more kinder than what I received two weeks ago. A card came in the mail from my good friend Jon Bausman. With a long letter in the card explaining how sad he was to hear about what Gina and I had gone through. He told me what a big heart I had, and how he hope the situation didn’t change me and that he wanted to let me know there were still good people in the world. Inside the card was a check written out to me for $200. He explained that I could spend it on whatever I wanted, put it back towards another camera? Or just use it to do some good. Jon has a bigger heart than most anyone I know, what a great guy. And though I know the gesture never needed to be paid back, or even think. I informed Jon that I could not take his money. He insisted, but I insisted back. The fact that he thought so much of me to do such a kind thing was enough. Jon is the definition of a true friend. Thanks buddy…