Jeff Serusa pulls the rung out from a ladder thief

Jeff Serusa keeps a firm grip on his returned stepladder. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

Social media can be annoying and intrusive, but here’s a story, in fact, a cautionary tale, of the usefulness and power of the web.

Jeff Serusa had a stepladder outside his Seaworthy Gallery on Beach Road in Vineyard Haven. Then last Sunday afternoon, it was gone.

Turns out a light-fingered resident had made it his or her own. But ever so briefly, as it turned out. When Mr. Serusa figured out it was missing. He flipped on his security camera and, voila, there was the nimble-fingered desperado making off with his ladder.

Mr. Serusa went to Facebook and posted the following message: “To the idiot that stole my 8′ step ladder from behind the Seaworthy Gallery. You looked right into the security camera! I know who you are!! I will give you two days to return it, no questions asked. However, if you don’t, I will post the video on Facebook and watch you squirm! The clock is ticking! I ask everyone to please share this post. Thank You.”

Almost immediately, 99 people did pass it on. The ladder showed up at Seaworthy Gallery, just two hours after it disappeared.

That prompted a second Serusa post: “Well, that didn’t take long. The ladder is back and now on a leash. I thank you all for leaping into action and helping me solve this mystery. If only the cops could work this fast, perhaps they need Facebook! Thank you all so much once again!!!! Cheers, Jeffrey Serusa”

On Monday afternoon, Mr. Serusa was still chuckling over his encounter with Disorganized Crime. “A lot of people thought I should post the video anyway, but I got the ladder back and a deal is a deal,” he said.

The moral of the story is: if you’re interested in social climbing, don’t steal a ladder to do it.