When Joseph Combs’ (COL ’10) iPod was stolen at a party, he did not wait for the police to take action – he took matters into his own hands.

On the night of March 21, Combs had been enjoying himself with friends at a birthday party on Prospect Street. Early in the night, Combs plugged his iPod into speakers and music began playing loudly throughout the house.

At approximately 1 a.m. Sunday morning, Combs’ iPod was unplugged and exchanged with a new device. By 1:15 a.m., Combs realized his iPod was missing. As the party winded down, Combs and others searched for it without success.

The next day, Combs searched Craigslist for an iPod. He stumbled upon what seemed to be a similar model to his stolen iPod. The seller advertised an 80G iPod for $120, a price significantly below market value, and he further indicated a cash-only exchange. Combs said he realized there were considerable similarities.

“I thought it was suspicious that this would happen,” Combs said. “iPods don’t go on Craigslist that often.”

Combs e-mailed the then-unknown seller about buying the iPod. After he received a response from Simon Wu (MSB ’11), Combs searched for him on Facebook and found out that Wu was not only a Georgetown student, but that he was also one of the guests from Saturday’s party.

After Combs’ inquiry about a purchase location, Wu abruptly stopped responding to his e-mails. Combs, assuming Wu had searched for him on Facebook as well, decided to change tactics.

On Monday, Combs recovered his iPod’s serial number by running a diagnostic test on his iTunes and notified the Metropolitan Police Department about the theft. He then used an alias, David Anderson, and e-mailed Wu once again.

“I made a fake Gmail account and messaged him,” Combs said. “We set up a meeting for 4 p.m. on Tuesday.”

Combs then formulated an elaborate plan to entrap the alleged thief.

Combs enlisted his friend Jan Gaetjens (COL ’12) to act as David Anderson during the transaction, which occurred right outside the front gates. Gaetjens memorized the iPod’s serial number and Combs instructed him to scratch the back of his head if it was a match. Two of Combs’ friends acted as spotters, Combs said, and were to relay Gaetjen’s signal to Combs, who was anxiously waiting in Village B. Combs didn’t want to be present at the exchange in case Wu caught sight of him hiding in the distance.

The sting went off perfectly and Gaetjens verified that the iPod was indeed Combs’. After receiving the signal, Combs came running from Village B and called the Department of Public Safety.

“DPS came and detained him. They called Metropolitan Police. Metro looked at the documents I had and got my iPod back. . Simon was taken away in handcuffs by the Metropolitan Police about 90 minutes after the sting took place,” Combs said.

Later that night, Combs received an e-mail from Wu, apologizing and admitting to the crime.

In the e-mail, Wu blamed his actions on being drunk, but also took responsibility for his own conduct.

“I am unbelievably sorry that I stole your iPod this weekend. I was drunk at a party and I saw it and I just took it for a reason unknown to me. . My first mistake was taking the iPod and my second was not [bearing] the embarrassment of returning it,” Wu wrote in the e-mail to Combs.

Combs said he was extremely pleased that the situation has been resolved and his iPod was returned.

“I am really thankful to my friends and especially Jan – who did a great job of memorizing and matching the serial number – for the help they gave me. I am also thankful for Simon’s extreme incompetence, without which I could not have caught him,” Combs said. “Thefts of this nature have no place at Georgetown and fly in the face of the good will extended to him by my friend who allowed him into the party in the first place. Simon deserves whatever punishment the school and MPD deem fit to give him.”

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