This weekend two robbery suspects were caught red-handed with a stolen iPhone and other items after a GPS tracking system on the phone led police officers to their exact location. This story is a good reminder to activate a tracking system service on your electronic devices if it’s available.
On Saturday afternoon an 18-year old woman named Lilli Gordon and her mother pulled into Rooster Rock State Park in Oregon for a quick pit stop. They were visiting from California and were on their way to the airport to fly home. While they were away from the vehicle, someone broke into their car and stole several items, including an Apple iPhone 4.
“When the incident happened I was really upset and I was pretty hysterical and crying. But on the way to the airport I was like ‘oh my God, if the phone is on my dad can track where it is,” Lili said.
The young woman, Lili, had just gotten the new phone a few days before the trip. When she bought it the clerk recommended she activate a tracking system program called Mobile Me that can track the phone through GPS.
Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) users can use Mobile Me to track their iPhone, iPod or iPad if it’s lost or stolen. Apple has plans to discontinue the Mobile Me service, although the phone location service will still be active through their new iCloud service.
Lowell Gordon, Lilli’s father, was able to bring up the phone’s location on a map from his home in San Diego. He called the police and gave them his login info for the Mobile Me site.
A police officer in Portland logged into Mobile Me from the computer in his patrol car and used the tracking system map to find the exact location of the phone. The deputy then met up with two other Portland Police officers and all three went to the phone’s last location. They searched a vehicle at the house and found the victim’s empty wallet and Lili’s stolen text book, but not the missing iPhone.
They arrested Nicholas Barnard, 42, at the house, who was charged with one count of theft and one count of unlawful entry into a motor vehicle.
After dropping the suspect off at jail, the Lowell Gordon called the deputy and said the phone was on the move and he was using the Mobile Me tracking system to locate the phone. The deputy again logged into Mobile Me from his car and got real-time information about the phone’s location.
Another deputy near the phone arrived at the intersection Mobile Me directed him to and found three men sitting underneath a tree. As the deputy was talking with the men, the husband sent an alert to the phone and it rang in the suspect’s pocket.
The deputy took the phone and arrested Lonnie Rogers, 45, who was charged with one count of theft. He also was wanted for a parole violation.
“He was able to recover it, which is pretty amazing,” Lilli said.
“If we didn’t have this tracking system activated, I don’t think it would have ever been found,” said Deputy Brent Laizure.
She will soon get the phone back, but her $2,000 Apple computer is still missing, along with her and her mother’s credit cards and driver’s licenses.
“I wish they had Mobile Me on the computer, too,” Gordon said.
Lilli and her mother flew home on Saturday, but had to navigate airport security with no ID cards. They were subjected to extra screening and TSA agents asked them a series of personal questions to verify their identity.