UT Security, TPD Set Up Craigslist Sting, Return Student’s Stolen Laptop

A Good Samaritan recently helped set up a sting operation in which UT Security and Tampa police recovered the stolen laptop of a UT student.

Joseph Michael Costello, age 20, was arrested on Nov. 1 on three separate felony charges of burglary, grand theft, and “dealing in stolen property.”

After finding a laptop for sale on Craigslist a member of the community traced it back to a UT student.

The student had contacted security Oct. 25 about a laptop reported missing from an unlocked Austin Hall room. The victim reported that he left his room unlocked, and half an hour later his roommate returned to see the laptop and the laptop’s charging unit missing.

At the time of the report, there were no suspects or witnesses.

A few days later, on Nov. 1, UT Security was given their first lead about the missing laptop.

That day, Officer Michael Munger answered a phone call from a non-student named James who asked about possible reports of a missing computer.

James told officer Munger that he had responded to a Craig’s List advertisement for an Apple laptop.

James met with the seller of the laptop who identified himself as “Mick.”

James said the computer hard drive was “wiped clean,” but there was a name present on the administrative page of the laptop.

James asked Mick who the person was and Mick replied that he did not know.

James wrote down the name that had appeared on the computer.

Aside from Mick’s name and e-mail address, James remembered Mick saying that he was a UT student and liked to “hang out on campus.”

James took the name he had written down from the computer and looked on Facebook to see if that person was a UT student.

Suspicions confirmed, James contacted UT Security who confirmed that the laptop in question had been reported missing.

After receiving information from James, officer Munger contacted Tampa Police and detective Delgado and told him about the stolen laptop.

Detectives Delgado and Lui made contact with James and set up a sting with “Mick,” arresting him under his official name of Joseph Michael Costello.

The laptop and charger that belonged to the victim were recovered.

Police also found a Sony 5.0 digital camera on Mick’s person at the time of the arrest.

Costello’s roommate said the camera was his, having just noticed it missing the day before.

According to detectives, “Mick” confessed to the burglary.

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