Teen Uses GPS Tracking App to Help Police Catch Felon In Minutes

iphone web-based gps tracking systemBoy Uses iPhone Equipped with GPS Tracking Software and A Laptop to Help Police Catch The Man Who Had Just Stolen $4,000 in Electronics From His House

If you realized your house had just been robbed, what would you do? If you were an internet-savvy teenager like Max Malkin, you would immediately call the police and then use your iPhone GPS and a laptop to help police track down your stolen electronics and nab the suspect.

On Saturday, 14 year old Max Malkin was able to help Seattle police track down a felon who was arrested with thousands of dollars in electronics equipment that had just been stolen from the young man’s home, the Seattle Times reported.

The teen’s father, Harold Malkin, said he heard a noise around 2 a.m. Saturday coming from the main level of his house. He said he figured it was the family cat running around, so he fell back to sleep.

To his dismay, when he woke up hours later, he went downstairs and found the back door wide open and discovered that several items were missing — his BlackBerry, his wife’s iPhone, his iPad, a MacBook and an iPod Nano, as well as the family’s Xbox and Wii game systems. Also gone were $150 in cash and a brown, rolling duffel bag Malkin had bought for his wife’s upcoming trip to Europe.

The family immediately called 911 and Officer Kurt Knox responded to the call.

After interviewing the family, officers learned that the mother’s iPhone was equipped with GPS tracking software. Knox suggested they try a GPS tracking app to locate the stolen phone, Mr. Malkin said.

Harold Malkin, who didn’t know how to run the “Find My iPhone” program, woke Max up. The teen quickly got online, logged onto iCloud.com — the Apple site where products can be registered and tracked via GPS — and pulled up a map that showed the iPhone was in downtown Seattle. Knox broadcast the information over his police radio, directing West Precinct officers to the phone’s location.

“It was fascinating to watch them work together,” Malkin said of Max and Knox. “… From the time the laptop was opened to the time they got this guy, it was probably 15 minutes.”

An officer spotted a man with a large, rolling duffel bag at his feet inside the McDonald’s restaurant at Third Avenue and Pine Street, according to a police report. The man and the officer made eye contact, and the man immediately got up and left, the report says.

The officer followed him to the bus tunnel at Fourth Avenue and Pine and stopped him at the bottom of the stairs, the report says.

The officer radioed Knox, still in Malkin’s kitchen, and asked Malkin to dial the number to his wife’s iPhone.

Back in the bus tunnel, the phone started ringing and the man pulled it out of a jacket pocket, according to the police report.

Malkin and Knox drove downtown so Malkin could identify his belongings, which were found along with a woman’s Bank of America card and another computer, which also appears to have been stolen, according to the report.

The suspect, who initially was taken to Harborview Medical Center after vomiting in a West Precinct holding cell, was booked into the King County Jail on Sunday afternoon, according to the police report and jail records. The man could face a residential-burglary charge if fingerprints lifted from Malkin’s home place him inside the house, Malkin said.

Sunday’s jail booking was the man’s third this year.

Jail records show he was booked into the jail early Thursday on investigation of theft and criminal trespass. He was given a conditional release Friday afternoon, roughly 12 hours before the burglary at Malkin’s home. The man also was booked into the jail Jan. 7 on a drug charge and was released two days later, records show.

According to court records, he has convictions for second-degree burglary and second-degree possession of stolen property, as well as three drug convictions, along with several juvenile and adult misdemeanor convictions.