'Jacob Stone's Manhunt': Internet Crime-fight Effort Pays Off; Fremont Theft Suspect Jailed

Mission accomplished for Jacob Stone, the Fremont car-prowl victim who turned the Internet into a dragnet to find the person responsible for heisting $4,700 worth of photography equipment June 12. Prosecutors have filed charges in King County Superior Court against Michael George Kosta, the suspect Stone helped finger. Police depict Kosta as something of a one-man crime wave: Besides the theft of Stone's property, Kosta, who has a felony record, is charged with trafficking in stolen goods and auto theft. Nabbed Sunday on a $100,000 warrant, he'll celebrate his 26th birthday tomorrow in King County Jail.

A delighted Stone says the actions by police and prosecutors seemed like "an unusual move for a crime of this nature," but it turns out that Kosta was also being sought by the state Department of Corrections for parole violations related to a recent suspended felony sentence for theft and escape.

According to Seattle Police Det. Dain Jones, Kosta, who was charged with assaulting a police officer in 2009, committed a series of crimes mostly in the Fremont area early last month. Among them was the June 8 theft of a car Kosta allegedly used to drive to Marketime Foods, where he was seen making off with $3 worth of fruit; employees got the license of the car.

On June 12, Kosta allegedly rifled through Stone's car at the Marketime lot, grabbing an armload of new photo gear. As he made his getaway, he was spotted by store worker Aaron Knobloch, who remembered the suspect as the fruit thief.

After a riled-up Stone filed his police report and insurance claim, he pored over security camera footage, discovering that the car prowl and the suspect's face were caught on tape. The suspect was also still driving the stolen vehicle, a Toyota Camry. Stone, rather than rely just on police, who likely had higher priority cases to pursue, created a website and posted the video and still photos, asking for the public's help.

The media picked up on Stone's interdragnet and a tipster called him on June 15, giving Kosta's location at an Aurora motel. Police questioned Kosta, says Det. Jones, but he wasn't arrested due to lack of evidence at that point.

The next day police confirmed through the video and other evidence, including checks of pawn shops where Stone's gear had been sold, that Kosta was their suspect. They also began to link him to other thefts and determined that he'd allegedly stolen the Camry less than 24 hours after he'd gotten out of jail on another charge June 7. Additionally, on June 17, a commenter on Seattle Weekly's Daily Weekly website identified the man in the photos accompanying Stone's story as "Mike Costa."

Kosta moved about and evaded police for most of a week. He was seen twice and chased, in one instance dropping evidence from another car prowl, then finally caught and booked into jail Sunday afternoon.

Stone has now updated his website with a photo of the suspect and the word 'Caught' stamped across the suspect's face. "He's been charged with multiple felonies and misdemeanors," Stone says, "so big thanks to everybody following this saga for helping to increase the pressure on this guy and get him caught!!"

Now, for Bin Laden...

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