A Carson City couple who found their stolen camera on eBay and bought it back from a Gardnerville man for $715 are to get their money refunded after the suspect pleaded guilty to possession of stolen property.
Stephen Figueroa, 20, told East Fork Justice Jim EnEarl on Aug. 6 he didn't know the camera was stolen when he agreed to sell it for a friend.
The $1,500 Canon Rebel, a 2006 Christmas present for Chris Carter from her husband, Alex, was stolen from her vehicle in March 2007.
The Carters said they reported the theft to Carson City deputies and were advised to check pawn shops.
"That was a longshot," Alex Carter said in an interview after Figueroa was arrested in the spring. "I had an opinion about eBay that it's a thief's best friend. It's so easy and so prevalent, there's nothing you can't find."
Carter went searching for his camera and found it relatively easily within a month of the theft.
"There were more than 700 listings, but there was only one for a used camera in Gardnerville," he said. "There was no lens cap and no memory card. The picture represented exactly what was missing."
The Carters successfully bid on the camera and had it sent to a relative in Massachusetts so as not to draw attention to themselves.
"My big fear was that the guy wouldn't reveal who he was, but he did," Carter said.
The Carters completed the transaction, sent the money to Figueroa, and the camera was shipped to them from the Massachusetts family member.
The Carters took the package to the Carson City Sheriff's Office and opened the camera in front of deputies to prove it was their stolen item. It had not been damaged.
Figueroa was arrested a year later and spent three days in jail.
"I wasn't aware it was stolen until about a year later," he told EnEarl on Aug. 6.
"It took a little while to refresh your memory," EnEarl said.
"I sell a lot of things on eBay," Figueroa replied.
Figueroa said he wanted to join the Navy and become an aircraft mechanic.
"I'm a good mechanic," he said. "I am a hands-on person."
The Carters said they believed that Figueroa didn't steal the camera, but question whether he knew the item had been stolen.
"It's just a blatant disregard for hard-working people," Alex Carter said. "People think they can take whatever you have. We just want our money back if he's found guilty."
Carter said he was grateful to Douglas County officials for pursuing the case, even though it took so long to resolve.
"That's a long time to have the uncertainty that the system works, and a long time to harbor ill will toward another human being," he said.
"Maybe the Navy will straighten him out," Carter said.
"I feel satisfied that justice is served in that he was not allowed to get away with it. I will feel better if I'm able to get our $700-plus back for the cost of buying back our own camera."