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Victim uses "Find My iPhone" to confront thief; did she get her phone back?

Posted: , by Alan F.

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Victim uses
Imagine waking up on a Sunday morning, unable to find your Apple iPhone. Yeah, you might have downed a few too many drinks the night before, and your roommate's phone is also missing. But it doesn't explain why "Find My iPhone" shows your handset at a location 30 miles away from your apartment. This is the situation that Sarah Maguire found herself in.

What would you do? San Francisco D.A.George Gascón, who has been a strong proponent of adding a kill switch to smartphones, says that some have tracked down their stolen iPhone and have successfully retrieved it, while others ended up getting hurt. An off-duty officer and his son chased down the thief who stole the son's iPhone, but he had back-up with him. Another victim, Nadav Nirenberg, found that messages were being sent from a romance chatline by someone using his stolen iPhone. So he pretended to be a female named Jenifer, made a date with the thief, confronted him and got his handset back.
"This is a new phenomenon — it’s not simply running after the person to grab the phone. It opens up the opportunity for people to take the law into their own hands, and they can get themselves into really deep water if they go to a location where they shouldn’t go. Some have been successful,” Mr. Gascón said. Others have gotten hurt."-George Gascón, San Francisco district attorney

So what did Sarah Maguire do? She first called the cops who told her to approach the location where her phone was located, and to call 911 if she felt threatened. After mulling the situation over in her mind for hours, and investigating the type of neighborhood she was heading into (a quiet residential area) she decided to to make the trip.

When she arrived, she knocked on the door and confronted a 30-year old man. After Maguire asked for the return of her phone, she explained how a GPS signal led her to his house. He went back inside and returned with the phone. After some more accusatory talk, he went back in to his house and returned with the phone belonging to Maguire's roommate. Still a little fearful, she ran back to her parked car and drove away.

Again, we ask you, what would you have done?

source: NYTimes

  • Options

posted on 04 May 2014, 17:08 6

1. Sauce (unregistered)

One great use of having my iPhone is this:

When a theft is attempted, and the thief "turns off" my phone, the phone will have a dummy shut down slider, and the phone will appear to shut down. Internally, the vibrator, sound, and other services that can "ruin" this are disabled, while the phone sends you an email, or a text to a secondary phone (my Note) of its location every x minutes. When the thief "turns" my phone back on, and attempts to wipe it or unlock it, it will take a picture of his face and will also send that to me, along with his exact location. Of course, there are more features that are included, but that is for a different story. There are also gestures (using Touch ID) to actually turn the phone off, which require my fingerprint).

posted on 04 May 2014, 17:12 12

2. magnanimus (Posts: 542; Member since: 29 Mar 2013)

1. You actually need Jailbreeak to do this.
2. Not exclusive to iPhone. (better features included)

posted on 04 May 2014, 17:34 2

5. Sauce (unregistered)

My phone has ten fold better security then yours does though :)

posted on 04 May 2014, 17:42 22

9. ErenJaeger (Posts: 119; Member since: 22 Apr 2014)

Sounds like a child bragging about his new toy.

posted on 04 May 2014, 18:07 8

17. Sauce (unregistered)

New toy? I've been doing this since the OG iPhone, and front snaps since the 3Gs :)

Only had to use it once (iPhone 4s), tracked the dude down by looking for his face at an outdoor music festival. Found him and texted my phone telling him that I see him. Minutes later, picked my unharmed phone up in a field next door lololol.

By the looks of these replies, it seems people are envious or ashamed of being ignorant of what iPhones can do, and decided to comment negativity. Just sharing my enjoyment. No need for the haters to come in and be all grumpy hehe :)

posted on 04 May 2014, 21:50 22

28. quakan (Posts: 1373; Member since: 02 Mar 2011)

"Front snaps since the the 3GS" even though the iPhone didn't include a front-facing camera until the iPhone 4.

posted on 05 May 2014, 04:32 4

38. AJagtiani (Posts: 466; Member since: 24 Apr 2014)

You destroyed Sauce with this comment. :D

posted on 05 May 2014, 11:07

44. Sauce (unregistered)

Do you research. You must have forgotten how easy it was to open a 3gs. There were kits. But ill leave the rest to you.

posted on 05 May 2014, 16:23 1

48. AJagtiani (Posts: 466; Member since: 24 Apr 2014)

There's no way one can open a phone and add a front cam. We know you love Apple and its iToys. Enough of the BS now.

posted on 04 May 2014, 22:00 4

29. ErenJaeger (Posts: 119; Member since: 22 Apr 2014)

I already know that both iphones and androids, both new and old, have great potential to do anything. the other guy was simply trying to mention that iphones arent the only ones with security capabilities. "My phone has ten fold better security then yours does though :)" was totally unnecessary. Thats like saying "My daddy makes 10x more money than your daddy." You have no idea if what youre saying is true and no one really likes a boastful liar.

posted on 04 May 2014, 23:18

32. Ashoaib (Posts: 3229; Member since: 15 Nov 2013)

True... he sounds like bragging about his phone... probably, he is a teenager... usually kids used to talk like this, the wonderfulness of things they have or do... their stuff is 10x better then others regarless of knowing what others have...

posted on 05 May 2014, 00:00 3

33. The13thKing (banned) (Posts: 849; Member since: 26 Feb 2014)

Lol man i had a 3GS once and it didnt have a front snapper. Hahaha cool strory though.

posted on 05 May 2014, 04:30

37. AJagtiani (Posts: 466; Member since: 24 Apr 2014)


posted on 04 May 2014, 17:43 5

10. magnanimus (Posts: 542; Member since: 29 Mar 2013)

No worries. I might not have the fancy dummy shut down screen but as soon as the sim is removed or changed, my phone enters a lock mode that writes my alternative phone number to call on the screen and if the person tries to unlock it the phone takes a picture and sends it to my email. I also receive the persons new number and if my GPS is on I can track the phone or the last seen location.Good enough for me

posted on 05 May 2014, 00:57

35. superfans (Posts: 155; Member since: 30 Jul 2012)

What jailbreak apps did u use ?

posted on 05 May 2014, 06:32

41. Sniggly (Posts: 7305; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)

So tell me, Sauce, which statement sounds less like an entitled douchebag waving around his faux status symbol in our faces:

"One great use of having my smartphone is this"


"One great use of having my iPhone is this"

Responding to the point that the app or one like it isn't an iPhone exclusive with "my phone has ten fold better security than yours does though" is also ludicrously childish, since Google actually has developed great security around Android which customers have to actively circumvent in order to become vulnerable.

posted on 05 May 2014, 11:11 1

45. Sauce (unregistered)

You all seem so upset that I mentioned iPhone. I just brought out all your true colors LOL. Oh the joy in seeing people not being able to see the word iPhone in a good story

posted on 05 May 2014, 14:11 1

47. Sniggly (Posts: 7305; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)

You showed your true colors when you made sure everyone knew that it was your IPHONE that had the special app.

Don't worry, it's really quite a common issue among IPHONE owners. They look for any reason they can to specifically mention their IPHONES.

posted on 05 May 2014, 09:58

43. Scott93274 (Posts: 4608; Member since: 06 Aug 2013)

My phone has 100x better security than what you've just described. It's called a severe butt kicking if someone even attempts to jack my phone. It must suck to always live in fear of people stealing your property.

posted on 04 May 2014, 17:23 2

3. lektriczzz (Posts: 14; Member since: 08 Aug 2013)

I would go to said persons house and start pumping lead through his door until I got answers.

posted on 04 May 2014, 17:34 7

6. jellmoo (Posts: 1590; Member since: 31 Oct 2011)

You would go to a private residence and start shooting through a door, potentially killing any number of people (from the elderly to infants) over a stolen phone?

No. You wouldn't.

posted on 04 May 2014, 17:53 3

12. Phullofphil (Posts: 801; Member since: 10 Feb 2009)

You ever here of sarcasm

posted on 04 May 2014, 18:11 7

18. Finalflash (Posts: 3090; Member since: 23 Jul 2013)

I believe the words you are looking for are "hear" and "hyperbole".

posted on 04 May 2014, 22:05

30. Jkennedy (Posts: 9; Member since: 29 Dec 2013)

It's nice to see something shiny among the sea of ignorance in the PA comments. good job Mr. Flash.

posted on 05 May 2014, 06:00

39. RebelwithoutaClue (Posts: 2890; Member since: 05 Apr 2013)

Nice, considering GPS accuracy is 10 to 50 feet. You might have shot the wrong person ;)

posted on 04 May 2014, 17:26

4. Adirr (Posts: 1; Member since: 04 May 2014)

I recommend that Apple will make a picture of the thief including the exact location and more and will send a photo by email and will replace some improvement device Find My iPhone...

Best software Apple should upgrade and improve it in a new version.

posted on 04 May 2014, 17:35

7. Sauce (unregistered)

Do you think this could be against legal rights, even though the thief is committing a crime, sadly? Im unsure since it is a case of theft.

posted on 04 May 2014, 17:36

8. iphoneman37 (Posts: 42; Member since: 30 Jan 2014)

I agree they should upgrade this feature more.

posted on 04 May 2014, 17:51 1

11. ThePython (Posts: 887; Member since: 08 May 2013)

In my case they would feel pretty stupid when they find out they screwed with wrong person.

posted on 04 May 2014, 17:54

13. Sauce (unregistered)

Just hunt them down, shove a 3 inch thick pipe down their mouth, and pour acid into their throat..

If you're wanting to teach them a real lesson, chop off all their fingers. ALL TEN!
They'll never steal again :)

posted on 04 May 2014, 17:59

15. ThePython (Posts: 887; Member since: 08 May 2013)

There's this great punishment in the east where they chop off the person's hand...

But seriously, when things like this (robbers) happen, You work so hard to buy stuff you need/want to some stupid, low life, lazy idiot come and try to steal just because they're too damn lazy to work. They deserve to punished by that, so yeah. They would feel pretty stupid after realizing they screwed with the wrong person.

posted on 04 May 2014, 18:04

16. Sauce (unregistered)

Exactly. I really think punishment should be like though out the country per crime. If a person pulled a diamond heist, or stole someones TV, or car, etc, they should get their fingers chopped instead of jail. They pay their own health bills and avoid making us tax payers feed them for the crimes they have done. Prison in America is a joke, compared to other countries.

posted on 05 May 2014, 02:21

36. ThePython (Posts: 887; Member since: 08 May 2013)

The amount of money spent to keep them inside a prison, feeding them, water, electricity and etc. is just too damn high.

We shouldn't pay for it, THEY should. MAKE them work, do something PRODUCTIVE. Use ankle/wrist monitors, put them on the street cleaning, the sewers, as long as they remain productive. If they refuse? Stop giving them food. Stop giving them water. Increase their sentence.

They'll be a lot more productive this way, and not a burden.

posted on 04 May 2014, 17:58 2

14. Laucha (Posts: 1; Member since: 04 May 2014)

Cerberus does all that you wish, location, takes a picture to the person trying to break the code an send it trough an email. Just a great app

posted on 04 May 2014, 18:49

20. Totse2k15 (Posts: 458; Member since: 11 Feb 2014)

Cerberus ftw! Would be funny to troll the theft with it, though.

posted on 04 May 2014, 18:53

21. wilsong17 (unregistered)

Agree I been using cerberus since my galaxy s2 root and install in the system... you can't unistall unless you do a full factory reset.. plus you can track text, call record voice... track your gf and kids

posted on 04 May 2014, 20:23

25. TheNeighbor (Posts: 232; Member since: 15 Nov 2013)

Since you're already on root, get Titanium Backup to turn Cerberus as a systems app. It will never be erased with a hard reset.

posted on 04 May 2014, 18:48 1

19. Totse2k15 (Posts: 458; Member since: 11 Feb 2014)

"Again, we ask you, what would you have done?"

Bring my Asian gangster homeboys with me and ask nicely for my sh1t back.

posted on 04 May 2014, 18:55

22. ajac09 (Posts: 1481; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)

Brought my AR with me and said "You got my phone I got a gun. You die or I get my phone back."

posted on 04 May 2014, 19:05

23. rgao007 (Posts: 1; Member since: 04 May 2014)

Can somebody clarify? Did the girl just drive away without the phones or something? This entire article is confusing me.

posted on 04 May 2014, 20:08

24. Fuego84 (Posts: 344; Member since: 13 May 2012)

Android lost app enough said!

posted on 04 May 2014, 21:25

26. fzacek (Posts: 2486; Member since: 26 Jan 2014)

Wow, I guess that thief wasn't such a bad person afterall...

posted on 05 May 2014, 00:01

34. mixedfish (Posts: 1179; Member since: 17 Nov 2013)

Most petty thieves are just opportunists.

posted on 04 May 2014, 21:28

27. techloverNYC (Posts: 601; Member since: 20 Nov 2012)

This article is on point. I find the app find my iphone is really stupid because who knows if the person who stole or taken your phone is an armed and dangerous criminal or some sick psycho. Having the police as back up is nice but in real life no cop cares about one persons phone got stolen or not. I live in a big city and cops are too busy for these type of crimes. You can confront the thief on your own but you better be prepare to take of business yourself.

posted on 04 May 2014, 22:26

31. 0xFFFF (Posts: 3806; Member since: 16 Apr 2014)

Yet another case where the urine powered iPhone would have saved the day. Much harder to forget your phone somewhere if you think of it every time you pee.

Apple could even make their urine-powered battery with "Pee ID" so the iPhone can only be powered by the original owner's pee. The iPhone would also detect the blood alcohol level and other substances in the incoming urine, so it would know whether or not to let the owner dial/text their ex.

posted on 05 May 2014, 06:27

40. Sniggly (Posts: 7305; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)

Okay, since I've seen it spreading like a terrible cancer through news outlets, I have to say this now: do not do these "click bait" headlines. It seems the article was intended to discuss the general trend in theft victims going after their phones, which could make for a compelling headline like "Rising trend in phone theft victims confronting thieves" or something, but no, you went with "Victim uses 'Find my iPhone' to Confront Thief, did she get it back?"

I blame Upworthy for this bullcrap. Don't be like Upworthy. Do the right thing.

posted on 05 May 2014, 08:01

42. ibap (Posts: 758; Member since: 09 Sep 2009)

"Sauce" must stand for 'applesauce' or 'on the sauce' and it appears he has bugged out. Maybe stopped smoking whatever he was smoking. Colorado?

Back to the thread - there are ways to do this on iPhones and Android phones, but if you were Sarah's family, would you want her approaching it like this? At a minimum, she showed really poor judgement in doing this by herself. Calling the phone, or texting it, and saying she was outside the address, and waiting for him to gently place both phones on the stoop and go back inside before she called the police, would have been smarter.

Even better would have been to ask the local cops to be in a cruiser at the curb while she retrieved her phone from someone who 'found' it. I'm sure the guy would have said he found the phones abandoned and was going to contact the owner, if the cops had gone in.

posted on 05 May 2014, 12:03

46. DontHateOnS60 (Posts: 867; Member since: 20 Apr 2009)

Bring my gun.

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