Michael Smerconish: Man offers marijuana reward to capture laptop thief

Poster with "creative" reward.
Poster with "creative" reward.
Posted: December 09, 2010

REWARD: FABULOUS DRUG STASH!

You'd probably expect those words to come courtesy of a Phish concert, not a full-service ad-design firm.

But Kurt Shore is especially desperate to recover his stolen laptop.

So he's appealing to a higher power for help. Pun intended.

Here's the backstory. As Shore was leaving his agency's Manayunk office one night last month, an employee somehow tripped the alarm. Not wanting the police to pay an unnecessary visit, Shore told me, he left his car running and ran back inside to turn off the alarm. A nearby security camera caught him jogging from his car back toward the office.

In the next 30 or so seconds, that tape also shows somebody emerging from a nearby vehicle that had just pulled into the camera's view. The individual quickly approaches Shore's idle car, opens the driver's-side door, and removes something - Shore's briefcase containing his Mac laptop. Then the thief returns to his or her vehicle and drives off.

Shore told me that in the rush to get home and shuttle his kids, he didn't even notice the briefcase was missing until a few hours had passed. (Full disclosure: I read about his dilemma on WheresTheFairness.com. The website's operators have purchased advertising time on my radio program.)

The police were "great," he said, but couldn't do much to help him. It's impossible to make out any details about the car or the thief from the footage captured by the security camera. Nor can it be enhanced in any way to get a good look at the getaway vehicle's license plate, Shore told me.

So he took it upon himself to post the unusual reward for information that leads to the recovery of the computer. His hunch is that the thief didn't come from Manayunk. He's thinking more West Philly.

He denied that he's profiling. Just going with his gut. And the reward, he theorized, should appeal to the likely criminal element who would have awareness of whoever snatched the briefcase.

Hence the headline on the poster, which is also emblazoned with a picture of a couple of marijuana buds and a pipe.

"Owning an agency, we know how to appeal to the right demo, the right target," he said.

"So I figured his friends, more than cash, are going to want some pot." (Besides his criminal soothsaying, Shore can also apparently see around

legal corners. The poster's fine print reads: "Actual reward may vary.")

It's easy to scoff. But the $50 million reward for Osama bin Laden's head apparently isn't rich enough for the goat-herders guarding him all these years. As a good friend used to say (though I think he was half joking), if we really wanted to catch bin Laden, we ought to offer a herd of yaks and some hashish.

Which is exactly what Shore is doing - offering the right reward. He insists it's not a gimmick. Nor is he trying to make some larger point. He just wants his laptop back - he had everything from family pictures to sensitive business information on there - and wants to be smart about how to do so.

"It's not the value of the laptop. It's the value of what's on the laptop, which is personal pictures, everything you have in there. That's stuff that's priceless," he told me.

There's little reason to doubt his sincerity. I don't even want to imagine what it feels like to have all that personal information fall into a stranger's hands. And while I'm not sure what type of precedent he'll set if he does end up cracking the case and granting the reward, I do hope he's successful.

The poster hasn't yielded any tips yet.

Any Daily News readers with information (or a backache that might require a "medicinal remedy") can call 215-483-4555 or e-mail info@d4creative.com.

Listen to Michael Smerconish weekdays 5-9 a.m. on the Big Talker, 1210/AM.

Read him Sundays in the Inquirer.

Contact him via the Web at www.smerconish.com.

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