How our stolen laptop was returned to us by the thief!
I have been very excited to tell this story. I woke up last night thinking about how amazing God worked. Some of you may or may not know but recently my husband had his mac book pro laptop stolen. This laptop wasn’t much of a personal laptop, but more used for business. My husband, Ryan is the general manager for a show in Gatlinburg called “The Jon Dee Comedy Hypnosis Show” Ryan has worked countless of hours designing billboards, brochures, ads, documents, all the music and lights used to run the show is played off that laptop and not to mention the gold stores Jon owns and Ryan manages.
I work at the Cash for Gold stores a couple of days a week and about a month ago they decided to hire a sign flipper to stand outside. Well after they posted the ad, they went to Myrtle beach for a magic convention. One day I came in to work and Winston was here. I called Ryan asking him if they hired someone because I didn’t hear anything and he said “Well, there is this guy named Winston that said he would work for free for a couple of days to prove he could get customers in with his signs” so I met Winston and he was such a nice guy. He waits until we close to leave and makes sure me and the other girl that works here, that our cars start and he is just nice security to have.
Saturday, the day the laptop was stolen, Ryan told me they invited Winston and his family to come see the show. The show doesn’t end till around 9:15. The laptop is sitting in the back and Ryan does the sound and music during the show and then when it is over, opens the doors and sells. Everyone was outside of the theater and when the people cleared out, Ryan went back in and saw his laptop was gone, He went up to Jon Dee and said “Did you move my computer?” Jon said “No” and then they all went into panic mode. Jon, Winston went running around Gatlinburg looking for anyone who looked like they had something up their shirt of anything. Ryan called the cops and filed a police report, Jon called the owner of the space needle and was asking him to watch the footage to see if they saw anyone. Well about 11:00pm they got the picture of the guy who took it. They took the picture into all kinds of places asking if anyone knew this guy. They ended up taking it to this one gas station and the lady said “That looks like Joe, he hangs out with a girl named Angie” ( I am not using the real names)
Sunday rolls around and we went to church, Ryan was so tired from not getting home till 2am walking Gatlinburg and then after we went to church, Ryan and I walked Gatlinburg, hoping to see someone that looked like that guy. We showed other people in stores, and no one knew. We felt hopeless. We put the picture on facebook, other friends helped us by reposting it. We had a lot of people text us, message us with any information they might have had and different names kept coming to us.
Jon Dee was out of town, Ryan kept in touch with him asking what he should do. We called a detective, but the detective was out of town for a couple of days.
Around, midnight Ryan got a call from this girl who works at the space needle and she said her friend came in and she showed the picture to him and he said “That’s Joe Smith, He use to live here but I think he moved to Louisiana. He is actually a nice guy. He must have been pretty desperate to do that, but if he hears your looking for him, he’s going to head back to Louisiana” So we didn’t know for sure about this name.
Monday comes and Ryan and I went to Knoxville to take our car to get worked on and we ended up buying another laptop because Ryan has to get everything set for the next show, this upcoming Saturday. We then stopped by the Seymour Gold store and Ryan talked to Winston, He was out front waving at people. He said he was going to make up some flyers and walk around Gatlinburg that night and ask around. Ryan offered to go with him, but he said “No, you have been running around to much, It will be ok. I’ll call you about it if I hear anything”
Winston went to all kinds of places handing out flyers and asking people, around 10pm he went into a restaurant and found a guy that said “Yes, I know who that is, That is Joe Smith, and mutual friend actually called me today trying to sell me a computer off Joe. I even know where he lives” Winston called Ryan and told him and we were excited. Winston called the cops and when they got there, they said “Do you actually see him on camera taking the computer?” We never saw the video but Ryan called Jon and the space needle owner said you could but after all this phone tag. Winston told them he wasn’t sure and by this time it was 11:30 at night and so the cops ended up leaving. We was for sure word was going to get back to this Joe guy and he was done gone. So Winston calls us back and says “Well I have the guy’s address, I’m going to go over there and sit and watch to make sure he doesn’t leave” We told Winston, it was ok. We will work on it more tomorrow.
Well Winston not only went over to the guy’s house but ended up knocking on his door at midnight. Joe actually answered the door, and Winston stuck his foot in the door so he couldn’t close it and asked him if Angie was here, He said “Yeah she is asleep on the couch.” Winston then said ” I need you to step outside with me, it’s about a computer.” The guy stepped outside and Winston was telling him ” We have you on camera, we have 3 people who told us it was you, so where is the computer?” The guy played stupid at first then he started confessing to it. Winston told us, He said he just happened to have saw the computer, and was looking for his next high.” Winston asked where was the computer and Joe said he sorta pawned it to a guy for $100 and when he got his income taxes back he was going to get it back from him. Winston said “Well you need to get a hold of this guy, because we want it back. So he called the guy over and over again, the guy didn’t answer. Then Joe told Winston ” If you can come back tomorrow, I’ll have it back” Winston said ” I am not leaving until I get it back, I will sleep in my van, take little cat naps, I am not leaving” Joe was nice about it, they offered him some food, offered him to come in but Winston wasn’t interested. This went on until about 2am. We finally stopped hearing from Winston and went to sleep. We was in complete shock that he actually went to the guy’s house and on top of that knocked on his door.
So 10am rolls around and Winston called us and said he didn’t sleep at all, he kept his eyes on that place. So we went down there to give Winston some food. We didn’t get there till noon or so, anyways through the night we found out the guy he pawned it to, ended up selling it again for $150. So Joe was still trying to get a hold of this other guy. When we got there we talked to Winston and he was like a zombie. He was tired and we gave him his food. Winston said he had 12 pages of notes, he got all kinds of license plate numbers, car descriptions, places where people worked. Again we were amazed! So while we were standing talking to Winston, here comes Joe walking up to us. He shook Ryan’s hand, my hand, He told us he was very sorry. He felt guilty for what he did. He is addicted to pain medicine. He told Ryan “It wasn’t anything personal against you, I was just looking for anything and I just happened to see it” Ryan explained what all was on the computer and said there is to many hours put into that computer, for us to not get it back. Well finally Joe got a hold of the guy and he was going to walk up a little ways to meet him. So after Joe being gone for about 3 mins. He comes walking back with the laptop in his hand. He hands it back to Ryan. Ryan opened it up and everything looked fine. The computer even had 76% battery left on it and the guy didn’t get the charger to the computer when he took it. We thanked him for it and Joe said He wanted to stay in touch with Winston and us. He said if I can help you guys out in anyway let me know. I do construction, plumbing, all kinds of stuff. We thanked him again and told him we was praying for him to get better.
Here is Ryan with the laptop after Joe handed it back!
When we got back in the car, we were in complete shock!! We got our computer back! I told Ryan, That is a miracle!! Can you believe, this happened? Here are a few things that gives me chills about this.
1) Winston! We have only known Winston for about 3 weeks and he did that for us! We would have never went to a thief’s house and knock on their door at midnight, knowing he has a pill problem!!
2) When we were sitting in the car, I told Ryan ” The guy who stole your computer, was the one who actually HANDED it back to you and told you he was sorry and shook your hand!!” That NEVER HAPPENS!!
3) If the cops were involved in this, They would have arrested Joe but the computer wasn’t even there. I don’t think they would have tracked it down and Joe would have probably not have told the guy’s names, since he was going to jail anyways.
4) Not only did the computer get stolen but was was sold 2x and we got it back!
5) We have a tracker on our mac, so after the mac was stolen, Ryan locked the computer off his phone and all they needed to do was connect it to wifi and it would lock and send us the location, we checked and checked it. Nothing happend. When we got it back we connected it to wifi and still nothing happened. We then realized on the settings it wasn’t even turned on!!
5) We didn’t press charges against Joe. Winston was the one who told Joe if we get the computer back, he wouldn’t get arrested. At first we was like “What? We didn’t agree to that!” but then we realized maybe that is what Joe needed. Someone to give him another chance. If he is living with his girlfriend and stealing, he must not have people he can turn to and we needed to forgive him and move on. I am praying Joe can overcome his addiction and learn about God. It breaks my heart for people like that. God doesn’t do things by accident. I think all this was meant to be and Joe will become a better person for it.
Thanks for reading this long story! I hope it inspires you and I hope you realize God cares about all of us and even our material items!!