Lost phone app tracks bur­glars

Central Leader - - NEWS - By EMMA WHIT­TAKER

The Find My iPhone ap­pli­ca­tion is prov­ing to be a help­ful crime fight­ing tool but it won’t al­ways save the day warn po­lice.

The ap­pli­ca­tion acts like a GPS sys­tem which means iPhone or iPad own­ers can log in on another de­vice to find out where it is and if it’s lost or stolen.

Sim­i­lar ap­pli­ca­tions are avail­able for other smart­phones.

Craig Ed­wards is one of the tech­nol­ogy’s suc­cess sto­ries.

His part­ner’s car was bro­ken into at One Tree Hill in Jan­uary and among the things stolen was her iPhone.

‘‘We had a look around but there was no CCTV, the app was our only lead.’’

A lost or stolen de­vice has to be switched on to be traced and later that evening it’s lo­ca­tion popped up on the cou­ple’s iPad.

‘‘I made my way around to the house and had a look and no­ticed my shoes on the front porch.’’

Po­lice were called and the cou­ple got back a lot of their be­long­ings.

‘‘It’s lucky we had the app,’’ Mr Ed­wards says.

Auck­land po­lice are reg­u­larly com­ing into con­tact with Find My iPhone.

‘‘It’s some­thing we have been be­com­ing more aware of over the last 12 months,’’ Auck­land City area preven­tion man­ager In­spec­tor Vaughn Gra­ham says.

He says cell­phones are still a big com­mod­ity for thieves in the city, but the ap­pli­ca­tion won’t nec­es­sar­ily get your phone back be­cause there are lim­i­ta­tions on po­lice’s pow­ers to act on it.

‘‘It gives a gen­eral lo­ca­tion which can be prob­lem­atic.’’

Po­lice need to be­lieve that an item is in a par­tic­u­lar prop­erty to be able to search it, One­hunga Com­mu­nity Polic­ing Team Sergeant Rhys Smith says.

In Auck­land there are a num­ber of apart­ment blocks or mul­ti­ple units on a piece of land.

‘‘Where there are three units next to each other you can’t be­lieve it is in all three,’’ Mr Smith says. ‘‘We can’t just go kick­ing in doors. ‘‘There’s still noth­ing stop­ping po­lice from knock­ing on the door, so still call us.’’ He has had suc­cess with the app. In one case of­fi­cers were able to track a stolen car through an iPhone.

He ad­vises against phone own­ers tak­ing things into their own hands.

‘‘My first thought is it’s only a phone and your safety is more im­por­tant than a phone. You don’t know who is in the house, is it re­ally worth putting your safety at risk?’’

Photo: EMMA WHIT­TAKER

Cau­tion: Re­ly­ing on the Find My iPhone ap­pli­ca­tion to get your phone back if it’s lost or stolen might not be the safest bet.

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