The Day I Lived The Life Of Sherlock Holmes

The Day I lived the Life of Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes - the classic pipe, the old hat, the suave British man with powers of deduction beyond the common man’s understanding.

Well, my friends and I lived an episode of a Sherlock Holmes’ episode.

Here’s how the thriller goes:

My alarm goes up, as it does every single day, and after a few snoozes, I roll out of bed and get into the shower. It’s a hot Friday morning, and I convince myself that attending my mandatory class is a good decision.

I drudgingly make my way downstairs to grab my backpack and begin the 17 minute trek to campus. With my eyes barely open I attempt to scoop my bag from the center of the couch.

I miss.

I try once more with slightly more vigor, chuckling at by bad aim.

I miss again.

Immediately, I regain my senses and realize that my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me - my backpack wasn’t where I had left it the night before.

I run upstairs, panting, and search every place imaginable in my room.

Nothing.

My housemates start searching for my backpack, and I jog to class to avoid being marked late. After I realized that attendance wasn’t mandatory, I jog the second lap of the race back home. As I turned the corner, I saw something unsettling - A cop car parked in front of my house.

A cop was taking notes, and my housemate was dictating what he wrote.

The synthesized rundown - 3 backpacks were stolen from my house, and within them were 3 laptops (mine included).

Someone fiddled with the lock of the bathroom window situated on the first floor and managed to hop inside our house. The robber (let’s call him/her Max for the rest of this story), picked up the 3 backpacks and jumped out of the window closest to the front door.

A Diagram: Bathroom Window Entrance → Backpacks → Regular Window Exit → Happy Max, Sad Daksh

And so, as the average person being robbed does, I asked the cop what needs to be done to recover the laptops. After a bit of back and forth, I got an answer.

Of course, his answer was far from satisfactory.

“If you can get me a GPS location, I can track them down”, he stated.
“If I had a GPS location, I wouldn’t very well need your assistance, nor would they be very intelligent robbers”, I thought to myself.

We hurriedly checked our iCloud services to see if our laptops could be tracked - the application was as blank as my expression when I learned of the robbery.

As the cop was about to give us his card and take leave, my housemate remembered that he had an anti-theft software installed on his laptop. We logged onto the software within a matter of seconds and found some IP addresses on which the laptop had been connected to in the last 30 minutes.

We finally had something - A clue, as Sherlock Holmes (or any slightly above average detective) would refer to it as.

Of course, the cop was quick to shut us down.

“IP addresses change all the time, and can’t be singled down to a location”.

He was right, but his subliminal refusal to help us angered us all.

Moments later, we found something even better than IP addresses - We found 2 images that the laptop had secretly taken, when the laptop was opened at Max’s apartment.

This time, I didn’t bother looking at the cop, because I knew what he was going to say.

We couldn’t discern much from the image - but we noted something very curious. There were two cardboard boxes labeled “SW-23M”. A quick Google search told us that they were old, outdated speakers sold by an Indian company named Sahara.

After a bit of scrolling, a bit of googling, a bit of data scraping later - we hit, what felt like at the time, the Jackpot - We found the 12 closest WiFi networks to the laptop.

 

It wasn’t an address, but it was pretty damn close.

The cop was expectedly a lot less excited than we were.

After he had left our place, we decided that we couldn’t give up just yet. We decided to drive around Berkeley with our phones unlocked, and just stare at the WiFi networks that popped up on our devices.

Yes, I know this isn’t the smartest idea in the world, but it was all we had at the moment.

60 minutes into the futile search, we found another clue - You see, there was a store called Memphis Wireless (check the WiFi networks above) that was located 2 miles away from us, that had its name changed not too long ago.

Note - store name changed for the purpose of this story

We decided to check it out.

We rolled up in what felt like like a Dodge Charger Police car feeling like CSI Miami detectives (sorry for switching up the metaphor), but what was really a fuel-efficient Kia Optima, and parked a block away from the store.

Half of us walked in and asked the individual behind the counter if they had heard of Memphis Wireless - the man told us that we were at the right place. The remainder of us were left a few feet away from a man who seemed like he was on a number of different drugs, none of which seemed to sharpen his enunciation. My friends inside the store asked the employee/owner if he sold used laptops, and all of a sudden the man seemed a little weirded out.

“Umm… No we don’t. Why do you ask?”, he responded.

My friends walked out of the store without too much more information than we had shown up with.

We decided to give it another attempt - we walked in, and explained how our laptops had been taken earlier that morning. We asked him if he knew of any stores that sold used laptops, or if he had heard of a marketplace for such laptops. He told us that he hadn’t.

The presumably drugged out man kept trying to walk us out, and cut the conversation short by offering other places that sold laptops, and claiming that “they didn’t do that [laptop stealing and selling] here”.

I got a text immediately, followed by my housemate telling me to check my phone.

“Look behind the counter”, it stated.
clue3.png

And right there behind the counter, where the employee/owner stood, were six cardboard boxes labeled “SW-23”. The one's identical to those in the images the laptop captured earlier.

A string of emails and calls to the cop assigned to our case, followed by a physical visit to the police station, finally led to a conversation with the cop.

The reality of the situation then set in for us - the cop had followed our advice and raided the store. He found nothing.

It was quite possible, and rather probable, that the laptops were sitting in an apartment building a few hundred feet away from the store, where a technician was finding a way to either wipe the laptops clean, or break them down and salvage the individual internal parts.

The cop called for backup, and just like what you’re imagining, a storm of armed policeman knocked on door after door. Seven short minutes later, they broke down the door to the right place - sitting right there were over 15 backpacks, and a scared gentleman with nowhere to run.

That’s what I wish had happened.

But in reality, they didn’t have the manpower to search every apartment building that stood above the store. Nor was it certain that the store employee/owner had done anything wrong.

It’s possible that the speakers were a coincidence.
It’s possible that someone else who worked at that store might’ve bought the laptops without knowing their origin.
It’s possible that the store knew nothing about the laptops.

It was all circumstantial.

We truly lived through a Sherlock Holmes episode. Whether Max the robber worked at that store is a mystery that probably won’t be solved, but my housemates and I had one hell of a ride during this exhilarating journey.

Daksh BhatiaMysteryComment