NYC couple, Greenport B&B owner help return missing camera

02/23/2011 10:40 AM |

PHOTO COURTESY OF SUSAN KEMPLER | Susan Kempler and her mother, Dorothy Richardson, were traced to Stirling House B&B in Greenport when this picture was seen in the memory of a camera left in a New York City taxi. The people who found the camera traced B&B owner Clayton Sauer who identified the guests and arranged for the camera’s return.

Thanks to New York City good Samaritans and a Greenport B&B owner, a lost digital camera with irreplaceable vacation pictures found its way back to its owner this winter.

Susan Kempler of Queens was entertaining her 88-year-old mother, Dorothy Richardson of Spring Lake, Mich., last summer and had brought her to the North Fork for a restful few days before heading to Manhattan. While in the city, Ms. Kempler left her Samsung camera in a taxicab.

“Since I didn’t have the number of the cab, I never thought I could get the camera back,” she said. “I am just thrilled that things worked out so well.”

They worked out thanks to two New Yorkers, who declined to be identified for this story, and Clayton Sauer, Stirling House B&B owner. The New York couple found the camera on a taxi ride to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The husband then tried to trace it through Samsung, to no avail.

But then he checked the camera’s memory and saw a picture of the two women sitting on a porch and a second showing the full porch and the B&B’s sign. The man Googled Stirling House B&B, then e-mailed Mr. Sauer.

“Frankly, I would have kept it without a second thought had the memory been empty,” the man confessed. “But I looked it over and saw that it contained many family pictures, undoubtedly more valuable to the camera’s owner than the camera could be to me.”

His e-mail, dated Jan. 30, prompted Mr. Sauer to call on his previous training as a researcher for a private investigator.

“I kind of thought I was going back to my other job,” he joked, saying his efforts felt “a little ‘sleuthy’.”

He enlarged the picture and remembered the two guests, mostly because it had been Ms. Richardson’s habit during her stay to sit on the porch in the morning and read The New York Times from cover to cover. But he couldn’t remember their names or the dates when they had stayed with him.

Turning the picture upside down, he was able to catch a headline and trace the story back to Labor Day weekend 2010. From there, it was just a matter of checking his reservations, and as soon as he saw the Kempler and Richardson names, he remembered the women.

The New Yorkers sent the camera to Mr. Sauer, who sent it on to Ms. Kempler.

“She was just beyond thrilled,” Mr. Sauer said.

For their honesty and efforts to restore the camera to its owner, Mr. Sauer wanted to reward the couple with a gift certificate for a stay at Stirling House. They declined, insisting that it wasn’t necessary. They did say that if Mr. Sauer happened to have a friend who sells Lamborghinis and could make a similar offer, they’d reconsider.

It’s less than the real thing, but Mr. Sauer will be sending a Matchbox Lamborghini to the good Samaritans.

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