Seattle theft victim bypasses police, calls suspect's mother

SEATTLE -- After learning she'd fallen victim to a crime, a Seattle woman took an unorthodox approach: She bypassed police and instead called the suspect's mom.

The suspect told Eliza Webb he was drunk and bored when he broke into her car, and now he's learning a hard lesson.

Webb was getting ready to leave for work a few weeks ago when she noticed the inside of her car didn't look right.

"I thought maybe my husband had come looking for something and made a mess of everything," she said.

She quickly learned her husband wasn't to blame.

"But then I looked at the driver's side seat and found a black cell phone and immediately realized that it's not a cell phone I recognize, and I started looking closer and we had some missing items," she said.

Within 15 minutes, Webb figured out that the phone belonged to a 19-year-old man.

Instead of calling the police, Webb decided to take a different route to justice.

"Then I called his mom," she said.

Webb told the man's mother she just wanted her sunglasses and running shoes back.

"I said, 'This is a very uncomfortable phone call to make. 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,' and she was devastated," Webb said.

Next, Webb and her husband went to the teen's house to recover their things.

"We knocked on the door and he answered in just sort of a defeated look," she said. "He looked like he had been crying."

Webb soon learned she wasn't the only victim. She said the 19-year-old and his friend got drunk and stole items from at least 10 cars with unlocked doors in one West Seattle neighborhood.

"So we asked if he would be interested in going door-to-door and seeing if we can track down some of the owners and apologize," Webb said.

The teens agreed, and not long after that first meeting they began their apology tour of the neighborhood.

"I was just amazed they were getting this chance to redeem themselves," said neighbor Marcy Budiansky.

Webb said she just wanted the teens to own up to their mistakes and understand the consequences.

"Sometimes when you get shamed or told that you did something wrong by somebody else it can stick," she said.

The teens didn't track down all of the victims, so Webb still has some of the stolen property at her house.