When an iPhone 4S was stolen from Cranford's Centennial Avenue pool complex in June, the phone's owner used the app to identify the phone's location, said Detective Sgt. Gerard Quinn of the Cranford Police Department.
“When officers responded to that house, they did recover the phone and made an arrest,” Quinn said.
Apple's Find My iPhone app allows remote location-tracking of many of the devices the company manufactures. Called by other names depending on the device, like Find My iPad for the iPad, the app uses global positioning system (GPS) technology to display the location of a missing or stolen gadget on a street map.
“Any tool that lands in our lap we can use to track criminals and recover stolen property, we’re happy about it,” Quinn said.
Thefts of smartphones, tablets and other handheld devices are increasing.
NJ Transit recently reported a rise in the number of electronic devices stolenon its trains and buses, and the New York Police Department reports that one out of every seven crimes in the city involves theft of an Apple product.
Along with Cranford's department, police in other Union County towns are also dealing with the crime increase, and in some cases the software app has helped them locate the pilfered goods.
“We’ve had a little experience with that application, specifically for the iPhones,” said Detective Sgt. Theodore Dima of the Roselle Park Police Department. “I think maybe we’ve had one or two cases over the last year.”
The most recent case, involving an apparent carjacking, resulted in the recovery of an allegedly stolen iPhone because the phone’s owner used the app.
After the phone was found in the possession of an Elizabeth man and taken to Roselle Park Police headquarters on Nov. 30, an icon appeared on the iPhone screen that said the phone was stolen, Dima said.
“Pretty soon we got a call," Dima said about the telephone call received from the owner of the iPhone — a law student at Rutgers University in Newark who was allegedly carjacked in the city.
The victim, Dim said, had been using the app and tracked the iPhone to a location right next to the police station.
“So he called us and said, ‘I think you have my phone. I was carjacked today,’" Dima said. "And then that just started the ball rolling.”
Though the app is proving helpful, recovering stolen property through an app still pales when compared to the “tried-and-true method” of visiting pawn shops and speaking to witnesses, Dima said.