Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Difficulty of Parsing

The story you are about to read is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Here's a story about how the world today is very, very different from any other time. It's both impressive and very chilling. A Rorschach test, in many ways.

One of my best friends had his car stolen Saturday night.

Here's what happened.

He went to a a small (tiny) restaurant with his wife. While a table was cleaned for them, they sat at the bar.

After they finished dinner and paid the bill, my friend got up and instinctively reached into his pocket for his keys. They weren't there. He looked around the table, didn't see anything, then checked at the bar.

No keys.

He wondered if he might have left the keys in the car.

He walked out to the parking lot, and his car was gone.

The manager was informed, and the police were called. The bartender said there was a sketchy fellow at the bar for about ten minutes (amusingly, he looked like Shawn White).

This tiny restaurant had an incredible bank of surveillance cameras--except the parking lot, where they hadn't been installed yet--and a quick review of the footage showed sketchy guy taking my friend's keys off the bar, going to the bathroom, then leaving the restaurant.

The parking lot for the restaurant--like the restaurant--was very small, and it was quickly determined by the police that sketchy guy had parked his beater in the handicapped parking spot. Every other car was accounted for, and this car couldn't be associated with anyone in the restaurant.

Not the sharpest of blades, this fellow.

They ran the plates. The vehicle was registered to a woman.

The police then used a social media tool (I'm not sure if it was public or specifically created for law enforcement) to go to the woman's Facebook page, where it was easy to see that sketchy guy was her boyfriend. In only a few minutes, they had his name, and with a few more searches, they knew almost everything about him.

Name and description broadcast to local police.

Shortly thereafter, he was picked up by local police, walking along the side of the road a mile or two from the restaurant.

He had driven the stolen car to a strip mall parking lot about two miles from the restaurant, parked it, then was walking back to the restaurant to get his girlfriend's car.

Car returned to my friend.

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