A teddy bear with a GPS tracking device inside led police to a man who had recently been stealing from the recycling bin at Georgia Square Mall in Athens Georgia.
Police have made creative use of GPS tracking devices before, but not like this.
The story began when Tim Peck, territory manager for Mid-Atlantic Clothing Recycling, saw an increase in recycling bin thefts. It reached the tipping-point and had to be stopped. The manager said the thefts were costing the company tens of thousands of dollars and were a moral outrage.
“They are stealing from those folks (donors); they are stealing from us, and they are stealing from DARE America,” Peck said.
It was enough to justify buying a GPS tracker and putting it inside a teddy bear. He then put the bear in the recycling bin Monday night and waited.
Tuesday morning at 4:45AM, teddy was on the move and the police homed in on its location.
Police tracked teddy bear thief Melvin Junior Wilder to a shopping mall, where he was unloading bags from his car into another donation bin. He explained he was just donating old clothes that were left-over from his flea market sales.
Then police asked him about the pink teddy bear in the backseat of his car.
At first he insisted the bear was from his home, but when it was revealed that it had a tracking device, the man confessed. He said he needed the clothes to sell at the flea market.
The teddy bear tracking device helped save 40 dollars worth of clothing that night. Melvin was charged with misdemeanor theft and released on a 1500 dollar bond.
However, the crime spree does not end with just one man; the international recycling bin crime syndicates are still out of reach of justice, and free to steal teddy bears.
According to Tim Peck, someone else stole another bag containing a GPS tracking device and left the Atlanta area. They tracked the bag as far as they could before it went overseas.
“These clothes are going to Mexico, China, wherever,” Peck explained.
Although some criminals still act with impunity, the story of the teddy bear tracking device is simple: thieves beware. Mid-Atlantic Clothing Recycling has installed cameras near 90 bin locations in the Atlanta area. They have also invested in more GPS tracking devices and continued to conceal them in stuffed animals.
Ensuring that no one will be able to make a living from selling donated clothing for long.
But crafty criminals might get another idea: just leave the teddy bear behind.
(Image Source: Hero Bears)