Just hours after the Los Angeles Police Department released selfie photographs taken using a stolen Kindle, an Arleta man surrendered the device to officers at the West Valley Police Station.
The Kindle and a smartphone were removed from an unlocked car in the parking lot of the Jack in the Box restaurant in the 16800 block of Vanowen Street (map) about 3:45 p.m. Feb. 9, according to an LAPD news release.
Investigators believed the photos were taken on Ash Wednesday.
“The Ash Wednesday part is important, because you can see the woman in the picture has ashes on her forehead which tells us the pictures were taken the day after the theft,” Detective Mark Pearce of the LAPD’s West Valley Division stated in the news release.
The photos were likely automatically uploaded a few days later, possibly when the Kindle linked to an Internet connection and posted the pictures on the owner’s cloud.
On Thursday night, 26-year-old Michael Soto turned the device over to police, according to an updated news release.
The woman in the pictures was Soto’s mother. She did not know the device was stolen and was cleared of any involvement in the theft, the release stated.
Soto was accompanied to the police station by his brother.
“I think there was a bit of family pressure to get Michael to return the stolen items and fess up, if nothing else, to help clear his mom’s name,” LAPD Capt. Vernon said. “Michael may have a bigger debt to pay to his mom than to society.”
The device had been tracked to several locations in the San Fernando Valley since being taken.
“This theft is unfortunately all too common,” Pearce said. “It was a crime of opportunity with items left on a front seat, inside an unlocked car, with the driver yards away, and gone only a few minutes.”
Detectives returned the stolen tablet and smartphone to the owner, the release stated.
Soto was released pending charges.
Anyone with information about the case was asked to contact Detective Pearce at 818-374-7753.
Tips can also be left anonymously by calling Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477, or by going to the website www.LAPDOnline.org.