Have you ever wondered how honest the people are around you? If you left something valuable laying behind, would someone steal it or go out of their way to return it to you? CBS Atlanta News was investigating software to track stolen items, but when we left an expensive tablet laying around, we had an unexpected twist to this story.
Chief Investigative Reporter Wendy Saltzman worked weeks on the investigation trying to taunt thieves with a brand new computer tablet. We left it behind in several cabs with the intention of tracking it, and then confronting whoever stole it. This botched investigation didn't result in a high tech sting, but what it left us with is more faith in Atlanta and an even better story about the people who work here every day.
We were testing Norton's anti-theft software. It lets you track in real time everywhere your tablet or cell phone goes and the sneak peek feature allows you to take pictures of whomever is caught red handed stealing your expensive electronics.
"We give people the ability to get a shot of the area that device is in or somebody that might have the device," says Joe Keenhnast, Norton senior product manager.
"What we use is something called Wi-Fi triangulation. And we basically use Wi-Fi access points that would be around the PC to locate where it is," he continued.
The tracking is so exact it gets you within feet of where your hijacked device is hiding.
CBS Atlanta News loaded the software onto a tablet and left it in plain sight in the back seat of four cabs. We let the drivers drive off and even tracked one of them to his home using the Norton anti theft software. Then a few hours or days later, we called looking for our lost item.
"I believe I left a tablet in the back of a cab. Is there any way you can check?" producer AJ Willen asked the cab company.
And to our surprise each of the four drivers, instead of stealing our tablet, went out of their way to return it to us.
"This is your house? There is a white dog. I came here three times and knocked," one of the drivers told us when he returned out tablet.
Richard St. Fort also drove by Saltzman's home several times to return it to us.
"Honesty is the best policy," St. Fort said. "In New York maybe it wouldn't have happened that way."
Another yellow cab driver even drove back on his own dime to Fulton County Schools where he dropped me off just minutes before and left the tablet with a guard at the front door.
"We are proud for the cab drivers of the city of Atlanta right now because the majority of them are honest. They know if something does not belong to you, you have to return it," says Sharmarke Yonis, the spokesperson for the Atlanta Taxi Cab Association.
Yonis rates Atlanta cab drivers as some of the most honest in the world.
"We are proud to be city of Atlanta cab drivers," he said.
"When I find peoples stuff like that, I return it to them. And I feel happy. It makes me feel good," driver Sikiru Yakum agreed.
He also brought the tablet back to Saltzman's home.
"I think that is what we need to do to give people more confidence in the cabs of this city. It is good for our business," Yakum says.
Atlanta's cab drivers were proud to say they are ambassadors to the city, and they want to make us look good. And they did.
One tip is to always remember the number of the cab you're in, because that's the easiest way to track them down if you if you accidentally leave something in the back seat.
Copyright 2012 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved
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