Monday, February 12, 2007

Savvy Mom Snares Ebay Thief

By Dave Lieber
Star-Telegram Staff Writer

Kim Vaughan's nickname on eBay, America's largest Internet auction Web site, is Momof4kidsathome.

It should be Detective Columbo.

Dissatisfied with the pace of Colleyville police in tracking down thieves who burglarized her family car and two other vehicles in her subdivision, she used the Internet to locate the stolen items.

The Bedford teenager who thought he could anonymously place them on eBay was in for a surprise. Within days, Vaughan knew his name and address. She even talked to him on the phone.

For her work, her neighbors praise her. An eBay spokeswoman calls what she did "consumer action at its best."

But in serving as her own watchdog, she put herself at risk and frustrated police.

The case of the amateur detective began 24 days ago when Vaughan's 4-year-old son, playing with her car keys, accidentally pushed a button that left her SUV unlocked for the night.
The next morning she noticed that her $389 GPS device was missing. She called the guard at the subdivision's front gate to learn whether any car burglaries had been reported overnight. None had, but within hours Vaughan learned of other victims.

A neighbor who also left a vehicle unlocked reported a missing iPod. Other neighbors, former Colleyville Mayor Donna Arp and her husband, Bruce Lotter, told her that a BlackBerry and camera were missing from Lotter's car.

On a hunch, Vaughan visited Much to her surprise, a GPS device similar to hers popped up for sale by someone in adjacent Bedford.

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