San Francisco startup uses dating app to find burglar

In July, the offices of San Francisco startup had several computers and equipment vanish.

Co-founder David Petersen filed a police report. But no one was caught.

Petersen set up a security camera and soon had video of someone in the act.

Courtesy: BuildZoom
Courtesy: BuildZoom

“Cleared out this entire building. She got 11 computers from upstairs. She got several computers from us including several tablets. She kept coming back,” Petersen said.

Petersen also found out that his company was just one of several that had property stolen by the mystery woman.

Petersen and his partners were meeting with their staff when someone came up with an idea to find out who this woman is. The plan? To put her picture up on the dating site Tinder with the words “I rob offices in SF, $5,000 reward for identifying me.”

“We wanted eyeballs on it, so we created a Tinder profile. We put her face up on the Tinder profile. Thousands of people saw it. Someone emailed us a suspect that looks just like her,” Petersen said.

Petersen’s company matches people with contractors for jobs.

“All we do is try to find the best contractors using whatever tools and data is out there. And I figure if we can use technology to find the contractors, there’s got to be a way to use technology to find criminals,” Petersen said.

Petersen said when he took the information to the police and identified his mystery woman, officers said they already had an arrest warrant out for her for different crimes.

Now she’s wanted for these burglaries.


From BuildZoom’s blog on what they believe was happening:

Update: After our story was covered on ABC 7 News, we were contacted by a nearby startup that was burglarized on July 6th and July 13th. Comparing footage, it’s clear that the same person broke into both offices.

Update 2: It appears that this woman is breaking into SF startups with a Doorking / DKS code entry system. She has obtained a master key and is able to enter any office with this system.

Update 3: We believe we have identified the burglar. It’s a local San Francisco woman who has been convicted of similar crimes in the past. An acquaintance of hers emailed with photographs and additional information. It certainly looks like her.

Update 4: My stolen computer was turned on today (July 26th, 20 days after the theft took place), according to an email Apple sent me: “Relentless has been locked. This Mac was locked at 10:52 AM on July 26, 2014. If you retrieve your Mac, unlock it using the passcode you created at the time you locked it. Use Find My iPhone on an iOS device or visit on a Mac or PC to take additional action..”

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