Gazette Ceases Publication: Donates Archives to LHS

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Larchmont Teen Helps Catch Tampa Thief

A tech-savvy Larchmont 13-year-old on vacation at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida helped capture two thieves and retrieve her stolen cellphone and camera on February 19. Here’s how Caroline Jensen’s proud step-mom, Jennifer Carpenter Jensen, described the caper:

So my 13-year-old step-daughter Caroline and I were on our way to get in line for Sheikra.

We were taking pictures all the way through the line, taking pictures of the big long corral, taking pictures of all the warning signs on the stairs, taking pictures of each other.

The lines were relatively short, and it was our second time through in less than 10 minutes. We were taking it easy, hanging out and fooling around with our camera and iPhones. We were getting closer and closer, and when we were just a few minutes away from boarding Sheikra, Caroline gives me her iPhone to stick in my bag. I quickly check my phone for messages from [husband] Sam, stuff the phones in my bag and move forward to get on the ride.

Caroline and I spot our seats and she holds mine while I stuff my bag into one of those cubby holes that people put their fanny packs, shoes, sun glasses, whatever in.

We ride the ride.

Tampa police picked out a thief in a Busch Garden photo of a ride taken by Caroline and Jennifer Jensen. Click for larger view.

We are hooting and laughing as we pull up to the platform. I look up and see my bag is still there, right where I left it. I then look over at Caroline, who now has her lip pulled down and is showing me a mouth and braces full of blood. I’m thinking, God! What the? She was fine just a second ago! Apparently, when we were pulling-up to the platform and while I was looking over at my bag, the coaster rocked just enough for her to bump her face on the padded harness and split the inside of her mouth. Forgetting about my bag, I concentrated on getting Caroline some first aid. In the mean time, some !@#$% took off with my bag! When I looked up again, it was gone.

The woman who had helped us with Caroline’s broken lip called in the Busch Gardens 5-0. We used the Busch Gardens phone to call in Sam from the other side of the park where he had been riding the Stanleyville train with [other step-daughter] Olivia. The manager came down and was on standby to help in any way she could, and Caroline was keeping an eye out for any dubious looking individuals carrying a brown canvas Life is Good Bag.

A few minutes later, Sam arrives with Olivia who is holding a gigantic stuffed tiger in her arms. Upon seeing Sam, Caroline pops her top and starts talking a mile a minute trying to explain what happened. She was full of excitement and outraged that someone had stolen her iPhone. Then, all of a sudden, she starts yelling, “I’ve got MobileMe, I’ve got MobileMe. We can track them by GPS! We can track them by GPS!”

Now I’m thinking, “You’ve got to be kidding me! That was the damn program I told Sam not to buy her last year.” Well son-of-a-gun if it wasn’t worth the $99 I told Sam not to pay for it!

We went to one of the Busch Gardens’ employee break rooms, got on one of the employee’s laptops, and with the cops watching over her shoulder Caroline tracked our cell phones out of Busch Gardens down McKinley Avenue and right into Suitcase City. Caroline then switches the GPS tracking device from maps mode to satellite mode and shows the cops a picture of the apartment building our phones are in.

The Busch Garden 5-0 then radios the Tampa 5-0 who descend upon the building Caroline had identified. When everything is in place and our cell phone rings have been described, Sam is asked to dial our numbers.

We can hear the ringing from Sam’s cell phone…

We hear the radio squawk as Tampa 5-0 radios back, “We have a suspect in view.”

Seconds later the radio sounds again. “The suspect has been apprehended. The stolen items have been recovered.”

The Busch Gardens break room went crazy! All the employees were clapping. The Busch Gardens 5-0 were high-fiving! The ride supervisors were hugging. Caroline was a freaking super-star genius hero! And all I could think about was that was the best $99 I never wanted to spend!

From left to right: Olivia Jensen, Orlando Puertas, Sal Mazza, Rick Penfield and the "freaking super-star genius hero" Caroline Jensen. Click for larger view.

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