Every once in a while people lose their precious handsets, either unintentionally left behind or stolen. I’ve personally lost 2 iPhones, a Nexus One, an HTC HD7, a Galaxy Nexus and Droid Razr. If only there were more accurate or high-tech ways to recover them.
This interesting story that was recently told to me is a bit extra-ordinary.
A messenger was sent to the telco’s Business Center to pay the bills of a customer. While the sales clerk was checking on documents, he intentionally placed his iPhone 4 inside his table drawer which the messenger saw. The sales agent left his station to go to the back of the office and when he came back, finished the transaction and saw off the messenger.
By lunch time, when the sales agent looked for this iPhone 4 inside the drawer, it was already gone. After frantically looking for it, they decided to seek the help of the network engineers and was able to locate where the last signal the iPhone 4 was sending out from (this is where cell site triangulation is done) before it was turned off.
The suspected location was Makati Cinema Square. Several of his officemates then proceeded to the mall and asked around, pretending they were looking to buy several 2nd-hand iPhone 4 units. They were specific with the iPhone’s color and capacity to narrow down the search.
For each iPhone 4 that was presented to them, they would pretend they were just checking the settings when in fact they were already looking for the IMEI number of the device.
After the 3rd device, they finally found the stolen iPhone 4 with the matching IMEI number. Since the incident happened inside the business center, the telco sent out police officers to the mall and confront the stall owner.
And since the usual strategy in malls like MCS is for one stall owner to scout from other stalls for available units (and just get a commission afterwards), the original stall owner that bought the device was already gone by the time the police arrived.
The iPhone 4 was eventually recovered. It was already restored back to the default factory settings but was already upgraded to iOS 5.
The customer who sent his messenger to the business center was also contacted and the messenger was confronted.
Now that was a lucky one. In many cases I’ve heard which is of similar nature, the stolen phones are rarely recovered. This one’s just that lucky.
Update: The concerned person has messaged me last night over FB confirming that this story happened to him, with some slight deviations.
Update 2: Changed some parts of the story as we get additional details of what happened (had to ask for some more questions). Apologies for some of the errors — was writing this while on the road and only had 2 hours of sleep in the last 2 days.
Update 3: Check out how you can try and use Globe Tracker to find a person or handset via cell triangulation here.