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Link: Tracking a stolen iPhone on the 7 train

by Benjamin Kabak

Let’s take a familiar conceit from The French Connection and revise it for the 21st Century: What if Jimmy Doyle’s foil had a stolen iPhone? That is the premise of this New York Times Crime Scene article in which one Queens woman goes from unlucky to lucky thanks to Apple’s “Find My iPhone” app.

As Michael Wilson relates, a woman, like so many New Yorkers these days, found her phone unceremoniously snatched from her hands while walking in Queens. When she flagged down a cop and called up her phone’s location, the blue dot revealed a perp on 7 train crossing the borough above. Officers tried to spot the thief but finally had to ask Transit to halt the train. A well-timed phone call revealed the stolen phone, and victim and technology were soon reunited.

This tale at least has a happy ending, but most of these stories do not. Thefts of devices, especially from subway cars, has pushed crime totals up over the last few years, and most pick-pockets aren’t quite so foolish as to leave that phone turned on. So just think of this as a modern-day chase beneath the city’s looming elevated trains but without so much of the dramatic tension.

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Roy May 3, 2013 - 3:08 pm

Kudos to the NYPD for acting so quickly. I am trying hard to imagine the Met or BTP (transport police) in London doing this…

Nyland8 May 3, 2013 - 4:06 pm

Halt the train ??!!?? I’m not sure how I feel about hundreds, or potentially thousands, of people being delayed on a train, just for the recovery of one person’s property – which she failed to adequately protect or conceal.

Her happy ending might have resulted in untold misery for others.

JJJJJ May 4, 2013 - 1:03 am

So you prefer more people on that train get victimized by the criminal? Id put aside 5 minutes if it meant some scumbag gets taken off the streets.

Nyland8 May 4, 2013 - 7:44 am

“So you prefer more people on that train get victimized by the criminal?”

If you’re asking me what I’d prefer, I’ll tell you. If you’re telling me what I’d prefer then, first of all, I’d prefer you not assume that I was someone who would allow you to make feeble straw man arguments by distorting my words.

“Id put aside 5 minutes if it meant some scumbag gets taken off the streets.”

Good for you. Would you put aside 10 minutes? 20? Now all we have to do is poll the other thousand people on the train … and the train behind that one … and the train behind that one … to say nothing of the people who might be waiting for them … and see how many of them want to stand around pissing their pants while listening to the recording, “Due to an earlier police investigation, the _______ trains are experiencing delays … ”

Here’s a news flash for you. If the phone allows a person to be tracked while they’re on a train, it also means they can be tracked after they’ve left the train – which, coincidently, is what I’d prefer. So glad you asked.

SEAN May 3, 2013 - 7:29 pm

WPIX-TV had a story on stolen phones last night.

I know of a similar story that happened in Tampa a few years ago. a former Neighbor of mine, his two daughters & second wife took a trip to Bush Gardens. While at the park, the bag with all the personal belongings was placed in a cubby & NOT in a locker. The older child & step mother went on a ride that was in full view of where this bag was placed. Despite that, the bag was stolen anyway.

Park security & local police were notified, but thanks to the actions of the child – the suspect was apprehended a short distance from the park at his residence with the bag & other items. All do to the GPS in the phone.

As a footnote, the GPS ap was purchased by the father despite the stepmothers objections. Also it turns out the criminal had a mile long rapsheet.


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