Apple’s Find My iPhone feature is intended to help you track down your lost or stolen smartphone, but what happens after you locate your device? Do you head to the thief’s location, or call the police?
For West Hollywood, California resident Sarah Maguire, confronting the person who stole her iPhone was the best way to get it back.
Maguire and her roommate both woke up after a Saturday night out to find that their iPhones were missing, she told The New York Times. After using Find My iPhone, Maguire and her roommate realised their phones were in West Covina, which is 30 miles east from her apartment.
When the two women called the police to alert them of the situation, they were told to go to West Covina themselves and call 911 if they felt they were in danger.
Maguire and her roommate confronted the thief, and after a little persistent negotiation, he handed over both iPhones.
Maguire’s story is just one of many cases in which “Find My iPhone” has been used as a tool to track down thieves and criminals. One of the most memorable scenarios occurred in 2012 when David Pogue, former New York Times technology columnist who now works for Yahoo’s tech magazine, lost his iPhone. Using “Find My iPhone,” he posted images of the device’s location online and crowdsourced readers for help. With a little assistance from Gizmodo, he ultimately got it back.
Nikos Kakavoulis, founder of The Daily Secret, cleverly used “Find My iPhone” to catch a naive iPhone thief in a Starbucks in Athens, Greece back in 2012. Using the PlaySound feature in iCloud, which prompts your phone to start beeping immediately, Kakavoulis was able to locate his iPhone before the robber even left the coffee shop, as TechCrunch reported.
Maguire’s situation also shows that smartphone theft is still a prominent issue, especially in large cities. Nearly 2,400 smartphones were stolen in San Francisco in 2013, according to The Huffington Post. More than half of those stolen phones were iPhones. In New York City, 8,465 Apple products were stolen in 2013.
California State Senator Mark Leno has been trying to address this issue with an effort nicknamed the “kill switch” bill. Just last week, California senators turned down the initiative, which would require smartphones to be preloaded with anti-theft software. This would essentially lock the phone down and render it useless if it were stolen. The thief would have to enter a special PIN to activate the phone.
Although Apple’s Find My iPhone had proved useful for Maguire, it’s not difficult for thieves to work around this tool. Apple’s anti-theft software won’t be able to track the phone if it’s turned off or if it’s not connected to the Internet.
If your phone is stolen, you should deactivate your phone immediately and make sure you log out of all of your important accounts.
NOW WATCH: Tech Insider videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.