Australian police use chopper to track stolen iPhone

It seems that when an iPhone is stolen in suburban Australia, no effort is spared in returning the gadget to its owner.

AAP reports that when a thief stole a woman's iPhone from a hospital northeast of the city of Melbourne, police not only made the theft a priority, but tasked a helicopter, which had been operating in the area, to hunt down the culprit and retrieve the phone.

Using the device's GPS and presumably the MobileMe service which allows the tracking of a missing iPhone, police located the phone in a nearby suburb and soon spotted the thief on a stolen bicycle. Apple last month made the tracking service available for free - previously it had only been available to paid MobileMe subscribers.

After perhaps realising he had attracted a little more attention than he had expected, the 16-year-old thief ditched the bike and attempted to escape by tram, but was apprehended by police on the ground. He is expected to be charged burglary, theft, possessing cannabis and handling the proceeds of crime.

The ability to track a stolen iPhone has proved useful to authorities - in July, San Francisco police took just nine minutes to find a thief who stole a woman's iPhone out of her hand. The woman had been testing a GPS tracking application for her Mountain View, California-based employer. Just days later, an Australian woman used MobileMe to track down her phone after she left it in the back of a taxi following a big night out.

The taxi driver initially denied having the phone and attempted to escape with the device still in his car, forcing the woman and her mother to pursue the car, using Mobile Me to keep track of the fleeing cab. The pair eventually confronted the taxi driver, who announced he had ''found'' the phone in his taxi.

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52 Comments

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Geez, for all the hand wringer saying it's a waste of resources.....

Yeah, it was only an iPhone, but the Police probably saw this as a good chance to put their training into practice. They need to keep up with the advances in technology lest they get left behind by smarter crims. As a result of this small crime being thwarted, they now have the knowledge to do it again.

Not everything in this world can be measured in money terms. Experience is often more valuable.

I wish our police would take crime more seriously. Here in Los Angeles when you car gets stolen, the Police will just laugh at you and tell you they'll keep an "eye" out for it. Months pass and nothing. Funny how I ended up finding the car myself. When you go report a stolen Laptop, they'll laugh even harder. A phone? Forget it!

Whoop Whoop whoop whoop whoop Whoop whoop whoop whoop Whoop whoop whoop whoop Whoop whoop whoop whoop whoop whoop whoop <--- Best Helicopter sound effect I could do.

warwagon said,
Whoop Whoop whoop whoop whoop Whoop whoop whoop whoop Whoop whoop whoop whoop Whoop whoop whoop whoop whoop whoop whoop <--- Best Helicopter sound effect I could do.

Obviously never seen Arby n' the Chief

SoiSoiSoiSoiSoiSoiSoiSoiSoiSoiSoiSoiSoiSoiSoiSoiSoiSoiSoiSoiSoiSoiSoiSoi (play it in Micrsoft speech)

Take out the SIM, turn it off, rip out the battery, SMASH IT?!

Guys guys guys, just put it on Airplane Mode! Failing that turn off MobileMe :\... although MobileMe remembers the last place it was seen and how long ago so police can still use that I guess?

Javawag (Joe Flood) said,
Take out the SIM, turn it off, rip out the battery, SMASH IT?!

Guys guys guys, just put it on Airplane Mode! Failing that turn off MobileMe :\... although MobileMe remembers the last place it was seen and how long ago so police can still use that I guess?

If she (the owner) had the tracking enabled, she was probably also careful enough to have a passcode enabled on the phone as well.

Australians...why save potential refugees when you can blow money on a fricken iPhone recovery co-ops misison. Only in Australia!

Undefineed said,
Australians...why save potential refugees when you can blow money on a fricken iPhone recovery co-ops misison. Only in Australia!

Dont they teaching reading in NZ? No seriously i hope your being sarcastic...

There have been numerous pursuits on the motorways by helicopter and bunch of police cars after stolen trucks worth 2-3k dollars. Is not about how much it worths is about breaking the law, pretty obvious ? Short sighted people ftw.

i guess a is good right? Itswas a bit extreme to get the heli involved but atleast it was returned safely to the owner, but a small waste of resources, that heli could of been use for a life saving rescue,not an iphone rescue

Xypro said,
i guess a is good right? Itswas a bit extreme to get the heli involved but atleast it was returned safely to the owner, but a small waste of resources, that heli could of been use for a life saving rescue,not an iphone rescue

The chopper was already in the air. It didn't take off just for this. I am also certain that if there was an emergency where people's lives were at stake, they would have been on the scene, rather than tracking this kid.

Since the helicopter was in the area anyway, they probably just used tracking this punk as a training exercise.

It's not a waste of resources.

By doing this they're warning other theives to stop stealing, or they will get them no matter what it takes.

FMH said,
By doing this they're warning other theives to stop stealing, or they will get them no matter what it takes.

Not really; just wrap the phone with aluminum foil could be enough. If you want to be 100% sure just put the device in a box made of lead or copper......

Fritzly said,

Not really; just wrap the phone with aluminum foil could be enough. If you want to be 100% sure just put the device in a box made of lead or copper......

Or just hold it on the edge and it will lose signal.

Sorry, couldn't help myself.

RangerLG said,

Or just hold it on the edge and it will lose signal.

Sorry, couldn't help myself.

As wierd as that sounds it would work!!!!!!!

Rapier said,
Why do these thieves not turn off the phone and take out the battery?

I don't think you can remove the battery from an iPhone... not easily anyway.

like they said
"but tasked a helicopter, which had been operating in the area", they were prolly only cruising about up there anyway!

Co_Co said,
i believe turning the phone off or removing the sim would have thwarted the helicopter pursuit

And how who you do that. I can do that with my HTC Desire but I fail to see you accomplish this except with some special tools.

2xSilverKnight said,

And how who you do that. I can do that with my HTC Desire but I fail to see you accomplish this except with some special tools.


Why? Removing the SIM is a pretty simple operation. Said that I am not sure if such action would be enough; I can tell you for sure that any GSM phone, even when the device is off remains a passive microphone and can be used to eavesdrop conversations. The only way to avoid it is to take off the battery...... which is impossible with the iPhone.


Fritzly said,

Why? Removing the SIM is a pretty simple operation. Said that I am not sure if such action would be enough; I can tell you for sure that any GSM phone, even when the device is off remains a passive microphone and can be used to eavesdrop conversations. The only way to avoid it is to take off the battery...... which is impossible with the iPhone.

Nothing is impossible with a hammer, crowbar and some pliers.

Judging from all the news, apparently only GPS enabled iPhones get stolen. Better stay away from them and get something else instead