Tuesday, September 28, 2010

How to Catch DC's iPhone Robbers

There are multiple iPhone thieves on the loose in Washington, DC. One thief approaches his victims and asks to borrow the phone. The victim hands the phone to the thief and then gets to see how fast a mugger can run. Another area thief snatches iPhones from Metro passengers: One moment you're listening to Lily Allen on the ride home, and the next moment your phone's been snatched.  Faster than you can say, "doors closing," the thief and your phone are gone.

The police want you to call 911 when your phone's been stolen. But how do you do that when you no longer have your smartphone?

Grasshopper, there is a way.

Install an app on your iPhone (or other smartphone) that lets you track the phone's location. These apps display exactly where your phone is on a website map.  Having your iPhone snatched is no fun, but being able to direct the police to your phone via an online map is cool and effective.

I use iHound on my iPhone. It runs invisibly in the background, so if my phone's ever stolen (or, ahem, I forget where I left it), all I have to do is go online and my phone will be found in seconds. iHound also lets you send an audible alert accompanied by a text message to your phone --for example, "That knock you are hearing at your door is the police." Other iPhone finder apps, including Apple's MobileMe and the amazing iLocalis, not only can find your iPhone but can remotely wipe it, and --are you ready for this?-- remotely activate audio recording. (iLocalis only works on jailbroken iPhones.)

For the Android, there's Mobile Defense, and for the Blackberry, there's GetItBack, as well as other apps.

These apps will help the police zero in on your stolen smartphone. They'll also let you find your lost phone (not that anyone ever misplaces a $500 cell phone, right?). Better still, they will allow a family member to find you if you're lost or stolen, or if you're in a car crash and can't call out for help-- something that could save your life.

And you know what?  These find-my-phone apps have actually caught thieves

Imagine a world where everyone had a location app on their smartphone. The word would get out quickly to thieves: Steal this phone and you're sure to be caught.


  1. I wouldn't recommend actually using the audible alert feature. If you give them a heads up, They'll probably ditch your phone out the back door or out of a car window, and without actually seeing it in their possession, the cops won't be able to arrest them for the theft.

  2. Mobile defense for android is not accepting new users. Still in beta

  3. Preyproject.com is another that works on all the above phones and your laptop.