Cyber sleuth from Hartlepool reunites woman with lost USB stick photos

INTERNATIONAL TRIUMPH: Jonathan Stainsby with his laptop computer

INTERNATIONAL TRIUMPH: Jonathan Stainsby with his laptop computer

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A COMPUTER whizz from Hartlepool has used his skills to re-unite an woman in South Africa with some treasured memories.

Jonathan Stainsby was handed two computer USB sticks - containing dozens of photographs – and managed to trace the owner.

CYBER SLEUTH ... Jonathan with the two USB sticks.

CYBER SLEUTH ... Jonathan with the two USB sticks.

Jonathan was given the two USB sticks by a charity worker friend who found them on the floor at the Marks & Spencer store, in Middleton Grange Shopping Centre in Hartlepool.

The elderly man had no idea what they were and handed them in to store staff but, when nobody claimed them, he was given them back.

He gave them to Jonathan, 26, a self-employed IT expert, who had a look to see what was on them and found dozens of photographs and documents.

Having a keen interest in photography himself, Jonathan said he realised how precious the snaps would be to the owner, so set about trying to find them.

I’ve made a couple of friends from across the world because of two USB sticks.

Computer whizz Jonathan Stainsby

After a lot of hard work and stroke of luck, determined Jonathan found the owner – a South African woman called Narien Meyer, a teacher, living in Oman Saudi.

Narien sent Jonathan a ‘thank you’ message saying that she believes she lost the sticks possibly on a visit to Barnard Castle in 2013.

She visited other places, she said, but somehow the sticks ended up on the floor at Marks & Spencer in Hartlepool.

Jonathan, who lives with wife Christina, 26, in Argyll Road, Rossmere, Hartlepool, said: “I looked back through all the pictures and selected some people whose faces were really clear on them.

The Facebook message Jonathan received from Narien Meyer after reuniting her with her lost photos.

The Facebook message Jonathan received from Narien Meyer after reuniting her with her lost photos.

“I ran some searches on Google images’ search, and at first I got a few names but no surnames.

“One of the names was Narien, so I went onto Facebook and trawled through some of the photographs of people with that name to see if I recognised anyone from the pictures.

“Then I went back to the USB stick and looked at some of the documents on it and found the surname Meyer.

“I typed that in Facebook and a lady called Narien Meyer, from South Africa, came up and I managed to positively identify her.”

Jonathan messaged Narien, but when he didn’t get anything back he looked at her associates on Facebook and messaged a Jan Van Niekerk, also from South Africa.

Jan confirmed that the photos belonged Narien, and then she and Jonathan were able to get in touch.

Jonathan has since sent the photo files via computer back to Narien, who is “absolutely delighted”.

Narien sent Jonathan a Facebook message saying: “Thank you so much for getting my pics back to me! I lost my bag with the USBs in it in Barnard Castle two years ago - or so I thought.

“We probably stopped at other places as well, but I’m not that familiar with the area. My friend lives in Redworth, near Darlington.

“Amazing that after two years you got it back to me!

“I’m now in Saudi Arabia, and most of the photos were taken in Kuwait and Oman, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where I’ve been teaching.

“Thanks to you I’ll have my memories!”

Jonathan said: “I can’t believe that I’ve managed to reunite the photographs with the rightful owner.

“I’m still quite shocked that she lives thousands of miles away, but I’m so glad I did. I’ve made a couple of friends from across the world because of two USB sticks.”