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Dial-a-Thief: Woman Pursues Serial Burglar

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"Why do you have this phone?" Signer asked. The woman said her name was Monique and told Signer her husband had given her the phone as a birthday present that same day. From the conversation, Signer gathered that the woman's husband had bought the phone from the person who'd stolen it.

Police advised Signer to offer the woman $60 for the phone. Police asked Signer to arrange to meet at a gas station nearby, where they would send an undercover officer in her stead. Monique didn't show.

So the police said there was nothing more they could do, Signer says. "It's a good thing you have renter's insurance," they told her. "Just forget about it."

But Signer didn't want to forget about it.

So one day she drove by Monique's home. "I'm just kind of staring," she recalls. "Ooh, I'm so mad." Signer talked to an older man sitting in a van outside, who gave her Monique's full name and her mother's name.

Signer then went to the police with the information she'd collected. The woman's husband had nothing to do with the theft, police later determined, but they are considering asking him to pay restitution for the phone.

As it turned out, police didn't need Signer's information to catch the suspected thief. Two to three weeks after her break-in, they arrested Travis Orlando Kelly and charged him with grand larceny and eluding police (Kelly is also facing prior charges of grand larceny and burglary).

Detective Kevin Hathaway says Kelly confessed to more than 55 recent burglaries, telling police he helped himself to showers, clothes and food. He was apprehended, Hathaway says, after police found DNA evidence at the scene of one break-in and a document with Kelly's name on it at another.

"She did a lot more than most people would do," Hathaway says of Signer's detective work, but he would discourage other civilians from trying the same thing. "'Cause she didn't really know who she was messing with," he says. S

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