'Find My iPhone' used to catch a thief

iPhones are expensive, and some people want them without paying, and so they steal them.

PCPro is reporting on one case in which the new "Find My iPhone" feature helped one man and his mates to track down his stolen iPhone and retrieve it from the thief who pinched it.

LiveJournal blogger Kevin Miller, a.k.a. happywaffle, from Austin, Texas, explains in detail that he and some friends were up in Chicago "to attend Brickworld, the world's largest Lego convention". The other night they had finished up in a rundown bar in uptown Chicago. It was there, as happywaffle later discovered, that he had lost his phone--and that one of the barmen had found it and decided to keep it.

Luckily for happywaffle, he "had just activated the brand-new Find My iPhone service. Even better, [one of his friends] had a Sprint (yes, Sprint) USB dongle giving him Internet access over 3G on his MacBook Pro. Excited to try it out, [they] hopped onto me.com and clicked the Find My iPhone link."

To make a long story short (see happywaffle's blog for the long version), the three were able, after some false starts, to zero in on the bloke who had made off with happywaffle's iPhone. They had tried sending messages to the iPhone asking for whoever had it to call them and arrange to return it, but the thieving barman had simply read the messages and ignored them. At one point the "Find My iPhone" feature on happywaffle's iPhone seemed to have been turned off, but it later transpired that it had not.

happywaffle and his mates were able to track the phone down to Medill Street (photo courtesy of happywaffle's blog):

A few more "Find My iPhones" later and the they were converging on the barman on a nearby street.

happywaffle called out to the man they had identified, asking, "Have you got it?" The barman, realising he had been caught, gave up the iPhone without a struggle.

Although this story turned out to have a happy ending, many would caution against such acts of vigilantism. One former resident of Chicago commenting on the blog entry writes to happywaffle that he is "glad you got your phone back. [Y]ou're lucky you didn't get shot in the face."

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