The most important thing for a thief to remember is to never leave anything behind.
Unfortunately for a suspect who allegedly broke into a Langley garage, a forgotten cellphone became the key to his arrest.
Lee Jackson says he was preparing to go to work Wednesday morning when he saw his garage door was open — and so was his car that was parked inside.
“There were papers scattered everywhere, and my things were missing,” he said. Those things included his wallet and ID, which Jackson says he leaves in his car each night.
As he began cleaning up the mess while his wife called the police, he noticed a cellphone lying on the passenger seat of his car. It wasn’t his.
“(My daughter) turned it on, and I saw two people on the phone(‘s wallpaper),” Jackson said. “I kind of assumed it was (the suspect).”
After doing more research and making calls to some of the phone’s contacts, Jackson says the suspect called his own phone.
“I said, ‘Hey, let’s meet up, let me give you your phone back and you give me my stuff back,'” he said. “He said ‘OK, I’ll meet up with you,’ but he never met up with me.”
Jackson alleges his credit cards were used Wednesday morning.
Langley RCMP were called to investigate, and took the phone as part of their investigation.
On Thursday evening, Jackson says he got a phone call from Abbotsford police, informing him officers there had arrested the suspect and found most of Jackson’s stolen belongings.
“He had been staying all over the place,” he said, saying he used the phone’s SIM card to track the suspect’s movements from Surrey to Langley to Abbotsford.
Abbotsford police have confirmed an arrest has been made, but wouldn’t say whether any charges are being laid or whether the suspect remains in custody.
Langley RCMP did not comment on the case beyond acknowledging they were aware of the investigation.
Jackson also got help from social media after his wife posted an image of the phone’s wallpaper to Facebook. As the post was shared, people began identifying the man and woman in the picture.
“I guess people are just tired of getting taken advantage of and getting robbed and having stuff stolen from them,” he said.
Jackson admits he leaves his car unlocked because “I figure it’s safe in the garage.” He even acknowledges he could have left the garage open himself, as no points of forced entry were found.
“I’m a forgetful person,” he said. “But my stuff should still be safe inside my own home.”
He’s now focused on preparing for any possible court appearances and making sure the suspect gets the help he needs.
“If you need help, go get it — but that doesn’t give you the right to start taking people’s stuff,” he said.
—With files from Jennifer Palma