Last fall, my sister's iPhone was stolen right out of the stroller while she was enjoying a day at the zoo with our nieces and nephews. My sweet niece Leah had a hard time with the concept of stealing.
"Why would someone take something that they knew wasn't theirs?"
It's a good question!
While Stacey's phone was never recovered, it did not die in vain. The key lesson learned was that we should all get the Find My iPhone app. While knowing where the thief is with your stolen iPhone doesn't necessarily help in most cases, the ability to remote wipe the data (treasured photos, personal contact information, private messages, etc.) can at least provide a bit of solace in an otherwise very frustrating situation.
Fast forward to this spring. Jeremy went to a gym on base to play some basketball, and about an hour later, he walked through the door. Nothing out of the ordinary. Until I looked up and discovered a hint of helpless rage behind his eyes.
"Someone stole my phone at the gym."
Whaaaaaa?! He assured me it wasn't lost, and that he'd tried calling it from a stranger's phone (with the stranger's permission, of course). This was frustrating. We felt helpless for a second, then remembered the lesson of Stacey's stolen iPhone just a few months back.
We sprung to action, pulling up both Craigslist and Find My iPhone. Apparently our thieves weren't quite as sneaky as Stacey's, who waited until the middle of the night to turn on the phone after stealing it. These guys turned it on within 30 minutes.
What followed in the next four hours was (what I hope will be) the closest our personal life will ever get to an episode of Hawaii 5-0. [Even though I should confess here that I've never watched a full episode of the show - old or new. Sorry, Danno.]
Here's a summary of the key findings and events, names changed to protect the obviously guilty:
Jerm went to base to file a report with base police, since the crime happened there. Once we had a map dot showing where the thieves had turned on the phone, we called Honolulu PD. My resourceful bro-in-law got in on the action and did some detective work on his side, counting houses in the Google map to pinpoint an actual address. He then Googled the address, and found the names of the owners. We'll call them Davy Crockett, Sr. and Paul Bunyan. It's worth noting that if this address had associated with an apartment building, that would've been the end of the story. We never would've found names. But it wasn't, and we did.
Once we knew the names of the people who owned the house where the phone had been turned on, we did some more Googling. We found Facebook profiles of relatives of the owners (presumably their sons), Davy Crockett, Jr. and Paul Bunyan, Jr. We found that these guys matched the physical description of a group of guys leaving the gym right as Jeremy started playing. We found that Davy Jr. had a Facebook friend, perhaps a younger brother, Jimmy Crockett, who was in the military (base access) and used to work for a telecommunications company (knows about locking/unlocking phones). Paul Jr. was a former college football player.
This HAD to be them.
The most interesting search result for Paul Jr. was a six-year-old feel-good story in the local newspaper about this promising young athlete following in the footsteps of his dad, his namesake, a local sports hero who went on to play college ball. Kid you not, he's quoted saying, "I just try my hardest to represent the name." Mission accomplished.
Police Visit #1
A very nice young HPD officer (we'll call him "Officer Cool") came to our door around 10 - 10:30. I apologized for wasting his time on such a seemingly minor thing. He told us he was just starting his shift, and he'd be glad to go to the house. No bigs. He also said that even though we had our map dot, address, owner name, and Facebook profiles, unless Jerm could positively ID the thief who actually swiped the phone, there was little he could do besides ask a few questions.
We told him we didn't care about pressing charges, that we were more concerned about the photos and videos of our precious little one (who was sleeping peacefully upstairs, blissfully unaware of the craziness happening below him). Those lost memories were our main concern. Officer Cool said people tend to be more open if they know they're not facing slammer time, so that might help get the phone back. (Those weren't his exact words...)
He left to go to the house, and the adrenaline rushes and internet searches continued. We refreshed Craigslist to see if the phone would show up.
Time for a commercial break.... Click for Part II and Part III!
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