The stolen laptop

March 20, 2009

So, my laptop from KXAN was stolen last Friday at Austin’s famed SXSW festival.  Not the best day of my life, for sure.  After checking security footage, calling police, asking around, and telling my boss, my photographer Mark Batchelder suggested I should post a Twitter message about my stolen laptop.  I did, and my “followers” on my twitter page passed it on to their followers, who passed it on to their followers.  Eventually thousands of people in Austin, and all across the country knew that I, a TV reporter in Austin, Tex., had a laptop stolen.  Even the Texas Department of Public Safety (a.k.a. Texas State Troopers) saw my twitter post and retweeted to their network. Below, you can see a copy of all the “re-tweets” of my original post.  I never found that laptop, and I’m still looking.  So if you see a lovely Dell Latitude 6500, please send me a Twitter message @mattflener.

Matt's Twitter Feed After Stolen Laptop

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That Random Helicopter…

September 4, 2008


As I write, I’m listening to a helicopter circling above our house. From my time at KXAN, I know that it’s the Austin Police Department chopper.

Putting two and two together (I saw about 4 police cars near our pool as I drove back home tonight) I called our Assignments Editor, Hal, at the station.

Hal called APD’s watch command and they told him an armed robber had just ditched his car at the pool parking lot in our subdivision.

So, as a curious journalist, I decided to stick my neck outside. (Sorry Mom and Gail). And the helicopter directed its spotlight on me. Then it shone the light in our backyard, and it circled our house for about five minutes.

I called 911 because I saw two guys two yards away from us. After a few nervous minutes, they said it was the K-9 unit.

Because of all this activity, our neighbors all came out of their homes (I wasn’t the only one). Neighbors I’d never seen before. Neighbors who live right by me, and I haven’t seen or heard from or even knew existed. I saw my neighbor Adam and his roommate I had met about two months ago. They all came outside because they wondered about the commotion. Praise God for this.

For a moment, I thought about my safety. Only for a moment.

And then I thought of this silly book I posted about earlier tonight called the Irresistable Revolution. In fact, in this book, I had just read a chapter about “the danger of safety.”

“Some Christians take so few risks, it’s no wonder folks have a hard time believing in heaven,” said Shane Claiborne, the author. “Most of us live in such fear of death that no one really believes in the resurrection any more.”

As you learn in the book, Claiborne lives among the poor and destitute in the inner city sharing the good news of Jesus Christ in a way that puts aside any idea of personal safety for the sake of the Gospel.

“Sometimes people ask me if I’m scared of the inner city,” Claiborne says. “I usually reply, ‘I’m more scared of the suburbs.’ The scriptures say that we should not fear those things which can destroy the body, but we are to fear that which can destroy the soul (Matt. 10:28). While the ghettos may have their share of violence and crime, the suburbs are the home of the more subtle demonic forces – numbness, complacency, comfort – and it is these that can eat away at our souls.”

Tonight we had a bit of the ‘inner city’ come to the suburbs in the form of a random helicopter and a bit of crime.

I took a risk of sticking my head out the door to figure out what was going on.

As hard as it is to say, I tried to take a practical step out of my personal fort of safety. Had the girls been home, I might have thought differently to stay inside right beside them, but tonight, as I was alone, I decided to step outside my house, even with an APD chopper above shining its light on me. Was it the safest move? Nope. Probably not. But I got to meet a few neighbors and establish an avenue for relationships in the future.

Some of you might get mad at me for making the move I made tonight to step outside. “Why even blog or post about this?” you might ask. I’d submit that I made a few new friends because of the ordeal. I’d also submit that it’s made me question how numb or complacent I’ve become living in my little part of suburbia.

These are questions I wouldn’t have been able to ask myself had I just stayed inside and listened to the helicopter above, watching Jay Leno.

I stepped outside on faith. As I prayed, God protected me. Thank God for that random helicopter