In the midst of pre-Christmas and Y2K preparations, a daring `channel bandit' broke into the ARN office within the inner sanctum of IDG's Australian headquarters at St Leonards in Sydney's lower North Shore.
The brazen burglar used a low-tech smash-and-grab method to breach the previously impenetrable ARN fortress and made off with a notebook computer belonging to ARN's own VP and publisher, Susan Searle, and a digital camera from the desk of Tabloid reporter Sandy Cremorne.
But the robbery was just the start of the tale, and it is because of the bizzare sequel that it is reported on this page. It seems that the thief took his booty to St Leonards station with a view to an escape by train.
As it happens, one of Tabloid's many spies (who cannot be named for security reasons) watched as the young bandit inspected the goods while happily in transit.
Our clever-thinking spy offered to buy the notebook and camera for all the cash he had, a little over $200, to which the villain agreed.
A matter of only hours after the heist, Searle received a call from Ashfield police station reporting they were in possession of the stolen goods after unearthing her contact details from the Police database files of a previous home burglary.
Searle was stunned to learn that the goods, first lost, had now been found.
Our spy, a recent immigrant to Australia and ARN reader, told Police he just wanted to do something good for his new country. An initially sceptical Searle was reassured by Police this was indeed a remarkable act of one of the channel's good Samaritans.
The spy, clearly pleased to have helped, had his money refunded and enjoyed a coffee with Searle, who described the experience as `just amazing'.