"X" Marks the Spot

Crime plays a big role on the news. Crime coverage is a touchy subject among serious journalists, who would rather be doing issue-oriented stories instead of the latest shooting or assault.

All too often, news organizations will cover the actual crime, but unless it’s a major case, will not follow up to see how things ended. This is troubling, because it can give viewers the sense that the world is full of violence, without showing how in some cases, lives have been turned around as a result of a criminal’s actions.

Or in some cases, the criminal’s life is affected by his (or her) own crime.

30-year-old Roberto Caveda was a master burglar. Among his “loot,” a $10 million Degas painting and $2 million in jewelry.

In 2006, he was arrested by police officers. They suspected he had committed at least 80 burglaries throughout the state of California. Many assumed he had fenced the stolen items and kept the money.

The trial was long and involved, with victim after victim testifying how losing their valuables affected them personally. Caveda was convicted in 2007.

A few months later, he handed his attorney a piece of paper. It was a hand-drawn map with a big “X” marked on a San Fernando Valley freeway underpass. The map also included detailed measurements — marking in meters how far down authorities should dig.

Police say they were shocked when they followed the map’s instructions, and found much of Caveda’s loot hidden in a 2-foot long black plastic pipe.

His attorney was shocked too. After all, Caveda could have kept silent about the stash, served his time in prison, and then retrieved the items after his release.

Instead, his attorney told a reporter, “He felt it was the right thing to do. He’s been telling me how bad he felt after seeing all of these old people testify.”

Authorities are now returning the stolen valuables to their rightful owners.

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