OLYMPIA, Wash. - Sometimes thieves use Craigslist to find their victims. But this time, a victim used Craigslist to find a thief.
It took Twig Wheeler a year to find the wood stove he wanted, and another 5 months of waiting for it to be custom made and shipped to him.
"It's $1300," Wheeler said.
How the stove finally came to be in Wheeler's possession is quite a story. When FedEx delivered it in January, someone stole it from his porch. He wasn't pleased.
"Definitely a sense of violation," Wheeler admitted. "And also I was troubled by it."
Wheeler had signed the slip for the shipper to leave the stove on the front porch so insurance would not cover the loss.
Angry and determined, Wheeler went back to the Internet, checking Craigslist to see if the thief would try and sell it.
A few weeks after the theft, the ad popped up. Wheeler described the ad.
"It said, 'Brand-new Little Cod wood stove. I've never had a chance to install it.' And then it had a very long detailed description of the stove that was obviously taken from the Web site," recalled Wheeler.
The stoves are very rare, less than 300 have ever been made. The chance of finding one in the Olympia area where Wheeler's was stolen was too small to ignore. Right away, Wheeler knew it was his, so he called police.
Acting as a potential buyer, police contacted the man who posted the Craigslist ad and set up a sting at a strip mall parking lot in the north end of Olympia. When the man showed up Wednesday morning with the stove, he was arrested.
The 23-year-old suspect was booked for possessing and trafficking stolen property.
Police credit Wheeler with taking the time and the initiative to track down the thief on his own.
"You know the quote 'We're all the heroes of our own journey.' At some level we have the opportunity to rise to that," he said.