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Crime Iphone Your Rights Online

Ten Cops Can't Recover Police Chief's Son's iPhone 277

Hugh Pickens writes "The Oakland Tribune reports that when Berkeley police Chief Michael Meehan's son's cell phone was stolen from a school locker in January, ten police officers were sent to track down the stolen iPhone, with some working overtime at taxpayer expense. 'If your cell phone was stolen or my cell phone was stolen, I don't think any officer would be investigating it,' says Michael Sherman, vice chairman of the Berkeley Police Review Commission, a city watchdog group. 'They have more important things to do. We have crime in the streets.' But the kicker is that even with all those cops swarming around, looking for an iPhone equipped with the Find My iPhone tracking software, police were not able to locate the phone. 'If 10 cops who know a neighborhood can't find an iPhone that's broadcasting its location, that shouldn't give you a lot of confidence in your own vigilante recovery of a stolen iProduct,' writes Alexis Madrigal. 'Just saying. Consider this a PSA: just buy a new phone.'"
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Ten Cops Can't Recover Police Chief's Son's iPhone

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @06:03PM (#40094101)

    The only tech angle here is that the item in question is an iPhone.

    Subsititute that for a car or a bike, would this story be here? Why or why not? I sense an an anti-LEO pattern on this site.

  • Still useful. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @06:08PM (#40094173)

    I'm under no illusion that "Find my iphone" will recover my stolen phone, but it's been great for those. "Ah shit where's my phone?" Moments.
    Just knowing where it is, or weather or not it's stolen, or if you left it at your friends or your parents house is good enough. Its the unknown quantity that's scary.

    The GPS is indeed accurate enough to determine things like. "Oh, it's in my car parked outside" - Done that from both home and work with my iphone and my ipad2 w/3g

  • by ZeroSumHappiness ( 1710320 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @06:13PM (#40094219)

    To be fair, the $1000 also goes towards attempting to convict a thief which may in this case itself recover more stolen goods or prevent other goods from being stolen. In the wider world it may also produce a deterrent effect against future crime. I imagine that if cops never went after any stolen goods there would be even more theft.

  • by kencurry ( 471519 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @06:24PM (#40094367)

    The tech angle is pretty obvious. It's in the 3rd-to- last sentence.

    Cops can't find our lost or stolen smartphones, even when said phone is broadcasting its location, so clearly that's a deficiency in the design.

    ... or is it just that the cops can't/won't take the final step? The location map was pretty accurate when I used it to see where I'd left my phone. There should be no mistake which house/building etc. That's all the system can really do for you.

  • Re:Still useful. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Belial6 ( 794905 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @06:28PM (#40094405)
    GPS tracking has recovered my son's stolen phone on one occasion. He was at a children play facility, and his phone was in his cubby with his shoes. When we came to pick him up, the phone was gone. The owners of the facility were quick to remind us that they are not responsible for lost or stolen items, and they had no idea what might have happened to the phone.

    I explained that while it would be unfortunate if someone walked off with it, they didn't need to worry about it as I had the phone updating it's GPS location. I proceeded to look up the phones location using my own phone. That's when it was 'remembered' that one of the employees "put the phone in the office to make sure no one stole it."
  • by war4peace ( 1628283 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @07:07PM (#40094793)

    Um, how much would you value a rape, then? Or a beating? Or domestic violence? Or even murder?
    It would be interesting to see a world where such calculations are being performed.
    Oh, so the guy punched you repeatedly in the face and stole 100 USD from you? Right. How much was the hospital charging you? 2000 USD? I see. So that's a total of 2100 USD. Well, we can have one officer spend 5 days investigating this, then tough luck buddy. Maybe next time you'll get lucky and he'll stab you in the liver, I heard those wounds are expensive to heal and we'd be able to investigate the incident for one whole month.

    Yeah, would be interesting to live in such a world, indeed...

  • by MichaelJ ( 140077 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @07:19PM (#40094893)

    Just this past weekend my wife lost her iPhone after stopping at a highway rest area. I knew from Find My iPhone that it was at the rest area, but there was no phone on the grass at the GPS point. Then the point moved to the far side of the parking lot. It wasn't there, either. It moved several more times, all of which led to the conclusion that it had to be inside - that despite claiming a location and even drawing an accuracy circle on the map, it was not where it claimed to be. I searched inside several buildings, had the attendants check the ladies' room (all the while using Find My iPhone to make the phone beep).

    Finally, after over an hour, an attendant and I went out to the dumpsters in back, stuck our heads in, and heard it ringing. That guided us to the right bag, and lo and behold, there it was.

    So yes, Find My iPhone was terrific in that without it, I would never have been able to recover my wife's iPhone. However, given what I went through in an otherwise relatively empty area, I can't imagine what one would do if the signal was coming from near a large apartment complex, a school, a parking garage, even a dense neighborhood of single-family homes could show the GPS point in the wrong location if the phone's inside. Sometimes it's just better to take advantage of the remote wipe feature and start all over.

    I cannot, of course, defend in any way the use of police resources in this particular case. I'm sure we'd all want to help our kid out similarly, but I imagine the smart among us would have done it informally and off the clock.

  • by Sancho ( 17056 ) * on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @08:01PM (#40095203) Homepage

    Don't even has to call it. You can tell the phone to make a noise that can't be needed.

    It's distinctive to the find my iPhone feature, and it is pretty damning.

  • by future assassin ( 639396 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @09:08PM (#40095703) Homepage

    was stolen from her locker at school. I actually left the phone on instead of disabling it to see if the retards would call someone. Sure enough when I checked the phone bill there was a call made to a number which I called and told them to return it or I'll go to their house and cut their hands off. The mom called back crying and begging to not do anything as she will get the phone back.

    Anyways after the phone was stolen my wife went to the school and told them about it. They did fuck all about it. A week later when nothing happened with the school she want to the police station and they said they couldn't do anything about it for some fucking reason. So mean while other students had their lockers broken into.

    After I got the phone back and got the names of the kids who where breaking into lockers, once again the school did fuck all so this time I went to the police station with the name of the people who did the break in. The retards told nothing they couldn't do anything because the school is a public place or something like that and I had to talk to the school RCMP liaison. Well so I call expecting to talk to someone and got an answering machine. Another phone call a few days later and I got nothing.

    Any ways moral of the story don't rely on the police for anything.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @09:51PM (#40095935)

    Yeah, there's no such thing as a panacea. Get over it, fucktard.
    What do Slashfags always act like there needs to be some do-it-all technology that just can't be trump by human error or malice? It gets old listening to you fucks moan on about your 200 dollar cellphones not cleaning your ass after you shit.

  • Re:Still useful. (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @11:13PM (#40096455)

    Did they point out how fucked up it is that your kid who goes to a 'childrens play facility' has a cell phone too? Seriously? You pretty much deserve to have it stolen for being such a douche.

  • by adolf ( 21054 ) <flodadolf@gmail.com> on Thursday May 24, 2012 @03:23AM (#40097483) Journal

    AndroidLost is some clever software which does a few glorious things with lost devices, including bright lights, loud noises, taking (and delivering) pictures, making maps, and displaying messages. Also (remotely) supports wipe, basic file management, setting a passcode, and hiding itself from the app list. And it does this stuff in response to either SMS messages or from data originating in Teh Cloud.

    And, it's clever enough to be completely not-running-at-all unless activated, so the performance hit when the phone is not lost is exactly zero.

Think of it! With VLSI we can pack 100 ENIACs in 1 sq. cm.!