A West Seattle woman who had a couple of item stolen from her car last month quickly discovered that the thief had inadvertently exchanged the loot for something of his: A black smartphone.
Scrolling through the list of contacts, Eliza Webb soon stumbled upon the alleged perp's mom and decided to give her a ring.
"This is a very uncomfortable phone call to make," Webb recalled telling the 19-year-old suspect's mother. "I have your son's phone and I'm missing some things out of my car and I think they might be two related items."
Webb says the unidentified teen's mom was "devastated."
Along with her husband, Webb drove to the teen's house to pick up her stuff.
Webb learned that the kid and a buddy had hit 10 other unlocked cars in her neighborhood out of "boredom" after a night of drinking.
She offered him a compromise: Give her back the stuff he stole and help her track down the other victims, and she won't call the cops.
They gathered the second suspect from his home and set off on an "apology tour," knocking on every door in the cul-de-sac to find the people they burgled and apologize to them.
"I think bringing the police and courts into something like this can have long-term, devastating consequences for kids," Webb told The Seattle Times. "I wanted to meet him, talk to his parents and see if there might be another way. I felt that if I could get him to own up to what he’d done and understand there were consequences, it could be a much better outcome."