LoJack for iPhones

A while back we wrote about Adeona, a free tracking program that could help police locate and recover a stolen laptop. As a bonus, we figured, thieves might be less inclined to steal any laptop, since every laptop they stole could potentially lead police to their doors. Enter Find My iPhone, a new service by Apple that does the same thing for your iPhone. After losing his phone in Chicago, one man recently tracked his phone down personally and confronted the thief, who, shocked at having been found, handed it back with a handshake. [%comments]


charles

Good stuff.. and I'm not an apple fan.

ScottK

I'm an iPhone owner and I see "find my iphone" as virtually useless. What police department is going put the resources in to using google maps to track down stolen iphone? It's a gimmick to get you to pay $100 a year for Mobile Me.
I suspect most "lost" iphones can be found by simply calling the number and hearing it ring from under a pile of laundry on the couch.

Dani

obviously, you naysayers don't live in a high crime area. i personally have friends who have used this feature to track down a stolen phone. no, the police weren't involved, but if someone takes (or keeps) your phone when they shouldn't be, you can track it, and show up, give them the benefit of a doubt and ask for it back politely, then call the police if they don't cooperate. one lady tried to ditch a stolen phone in the trash, and my friend recovered his there. thanks apple!

kerv

Do you think that this capability will increase vigilantism? Maybe we can also move towards a wikipolice service.

Alex F.

I don't see any reason why this needs a MobileMe subscription except to increase the bottom line. It should work on any iPhone with push notifications. Maybe an app will come out for jailbroken phones to allow this feature for non-subscribers.

Kevin

@ScottK, there's actually a large incentive, the same way there is for a laptop. Chances are, if you're stealing a laptop, you're not just stealing one. You're stealing a bunch, or you're at least selling them to someone who's buying a lot of stolen goods. Either way, tracking the one can oftentimes lead to a larger crackdown.

The effect is dampened a little bit with an iPhone, but it's still the same idea.

Ken Westin

This is a bad idea. It is only a matter of time before someone is killed trying to recover their own phone. The location is within 4 blocks...so it is pretty tough to pinpoint the exact location. When recovering stolen property the police should always be involved for a multitude of reasons. It will be interesting to see how many police stations will be flooded with find my iPhone printouts etc and not know what to do with the data. General location is one thing, but it does not help unless you have personally identifiable and verifiable information regarding the thief's identity. This is precisely why Apple is not advertising this as anti-theft, you will notice they do not say this is for security or theft purposes in any of their literature. If you want more information regarding how stolen property is recovered with technology feel free to contact me directly.

Thank You

Mike M

It doesn't make it a "bad idea" just because there is risk of someone being killed. The automobile was a pretty "good idea", and a terrific number of deaths can be attributed to it daily.

I don't know all of the reasons (I'm sure there are a multitude), but police generally do not pursue small amounts of stolen personal property (granted, this is anecdotal evidence).

With a relatively small amount of effort (via survailance cameras, electronic records, etc.) you could identify a criminal that stole and used a credit card in a matter of a few hours. It wouldn't be successful 100% of the time, but it might be enough to make an overall impact on crime, as actually pursuing the arrest of criminals seems to serve as a deterrent (as opposed to hoping you stumble upon them during a traffic stop). It seems that the police file a report so you can claim insurance, etc. and forget all about it and then go back to writing traffic violations. Again, I'm sure it's not completely incompetence, apathy or laziness and that there are many other issues at play. I am also certain that the aforementioned three reasons all play a role as well.

The indictment of the police system aside, I don't want a babysitter. Just because it's dangerous to attempt to recover your own stolen property doesn't mean you should not be able to attempt it.

Sorry if I misinterpreted your post, Ken. It seems as though you suggest this program shouldn't be allowed to exist, as if it would be the program's fault if someone got killed by using it. I see this as THE fundamental failing of our country. No one is willing to accept responsibilty for their own actions anymore. There is always someone to shift the blame to. Nothing is anyone's fault. Everyone is victimized by poor circumstance and the folks that created the circumstance are really to blame for the incident at hand. It's garbage. If your mortgage rate goes up to 15% after the first 5 years at 3%, it isn't the lender's fault . It's yours for agreeing to the terms in the first place (unless it was outright fraud, which has seldom been the case).

I hope my post wasn't too all over the map. I'm just sick of people waiting for someone else (aka the government) to improve their lot instead of doing something about it. And I'm blaming the people, not the politicians.

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Devika

I read the blog entry posted by the iPhone man from Chicago (Kevin), and many people commented on his blog with a similar sentiment regarding chasing the thief (bad idea!). Interestingly a police officer also commented on the entry and was very clear that the police WOULD pursue a phone thief, especially since it was happening in real-time, which obviously increases the chances of arresting the thief. Additionally, the comment noted that any theft over $200 is considered a felony, which makes this situation even more compelling for a police officer.

Even in a big city, there are squads dedicated to dealing with these day-to-day "petty" crimes. I'm not saying all officers would take the time to pursue this incident, but we shouldn't assume that we can't trust the police to protect and serve us, no matter how trivial the incident may seem at the time.

henry

I agree with 7 & 8. Out country has bred a nation of lambs lined up for slaughter. How else could 19 nutjobs with box-cutters (i.e, not any more dangerous than standard kitchen utensils) take hundreds of people hostage (Flight 93 excepted)?

I am not sure where "4 blocks" comes from, but I can often get an google maps location within about 20-30 feet. depending on where you live, this is enought to pinpoint, say, a suburban home or an urban townhouse. Not much use in a new york city highrise with hundreds of stacked apartments though.

The police would not need to do much work. You could just go to the home where you think the iphone is and call the police (on someone else's phone) and tell them my phone was stolen, it's in there - help me out.

henry

#7, I would actually argue that fraud was common back in the wild west days of home financing . . . unfortunately, it was the borrowers who usually lied. lenders face stiff penalties if they are caught lying. borrowers face very few, if any, since the one remedy (calling the loan due) is usually useless since the whole problem is that the borrower has no money or income and lied about it. they don't call 'em liar's loans for nothing. the lenders, though, knew this was going on to some degree and simply didn't care because they thought the RE market would never go down, or because everybody else was running off the cliff too.