A man who attained instant infamy by unwittingly using a stolen computer to upload a shirtless self-portrait to the Internet has turned the machine over to police in Victoria.
The tattooed man, whose photo has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times around the world and who suddenly found himself famous from Iceland to Brazil, walked into the Victoria police station with the stolen machine at about 4 p.m. Tuesday, said gt. Colin Brown.
The man also contacted Global BC on Tuesday, telling the station he did not know the computer was stolen and that he had bought it from a friend who had bought it from someone else.
At Flickr.com – a popular website where the photo surfaced on Monday – people were viewing the photo at a rate of about 90 hits per minute. By late Tuesday, it had been viewed more than 217,000 times.
“It’s pretty much worldwide. It’s kind of hit everyone’s radar,” said Dane Brown, manager of Workspace.
“This is all I’ve dealt with for the last two days, is calls and e-mails about this,” he added.
In Victoria, Brown would not give the tattooed man’s name.
“He wouldn’t say anything,” he told The Vancouver Sun in an interview. “He came in with his lawyer.”
Brown said the man was “known to police.” He added that while no charges were laid on Tuesday, the matter is “certainly under investigation.”
Brown said the man’s lawyer apparently saw the shirtless picture in a Victoria newspaper Tuesday and alerted his client.
The machine – an Apple iMac with a built-in webcam – was stolen in the early morning hours of Sept. 19, Vancouver police spokesman Const. Howard Chow said.
Chow said the computer, along with five others, was taken from Workspace, a Gastown company that provides work areas to independent professionals. He said Vancouver police investigators had been unable to get any fingerprints.
Since the break-in, the managers of Workspace have taken images from the building’s security camera and posted them to the Internet. They say the images – which show two men coming and going from the building, once with computers under their arms – are those of the men believed to have stolen their machines.
Two shirtless images the man took of himself using one of the stolen machines were automatically up-loaded to the Internet.
In the call to Global BC, he said he wanted to clear his name and that he has a legitimate day job as a bodyguard.
He was apparently set to tape a formal interview, but cancelled at the last minute on the advice of his lawyer.
At Workspace, Dane Brown couldn’t have been happier.
“It’s awesome. It’s exactly what we wanted,” he said in an interview.
Brown said he was curious to hear the full story from police, and was hopeful the man who turned the machine over will be able to help lead authorities to the five other missing computers.
“Hopefully this guy can give us more information about when he got the computer and we can trace it,” he said, explaining most of the machines belonged to the independent professionals who use his workspace.
Before the computer was returned, the chief executive of a Vancouver-based computer recovery company was offering to help track the missing machine.
“We can work with the police and get it back,” Absolute Software Corp. CEO John Livingston said.
“For us, recovering stolen computers is an everyday event,” he added, explaining his company has technology that can communicate with missing machines, even if their hard drives have been completely wiped.