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January 14, 2012

A strange tale of a stolen and recovered iPhone 4

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.

The most frequent suggestion is to use an app like Find my iPhone (or something similar) to locate the last known location fo the device.

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.


59 Responses to “A strange tale of a stolen and recovered iPhone 4”

  1. Azalam says:

    Stop wasting our time with your made up stories.

  2. arsie
    Twitter: eyesfortech
    says:

    Whoa! darn that was so close. Indeed he is one lucky person. That is why we should never leave our things unattended.

  3. techgazine
    Twitter: techgazine
    says:

    I agree, you can never trust anybody specially iPhone is one hot mobile nowadays.

  4. Grey
    Twitter: thegreymatter5
    says:

    Wow! Happy ending! Last time I lost my phone was when we had a drink, the unit, nothing compared to today’s smartphones, was a Nokia 6250. I’m all praises with such apps from IOS and Android, hopefully, local network providers would support this to the end

  5. This happens all the time, seems the globe tracker is the way to go. But that service never seemed to make it on a prime time. If im not mistaken their was a tv ad for the globe tracker service but maybe it was too early for the masses to adjust on that technology. I remember it was the era of nokia 3310 :D

  6. Bim says:

    This happened to me on Baguio City, my phone got stolen (it was a w580i) .Its been missing for a week. One day, I was walking down Session Road when my girlfriend pointed a similar phone(displayed on a stall) and ask me if I miss my phone, I said yes and looked at the markings. To my surprise, it was really my phone. I confronted the stall owner, but we cant leave because we were surrounded by the Muslim vendors. We wanted to ask for the police’s help( about 5 blocks away in session road), BUT, im pretty sure if we leave and did that , They’ll just runaway and bad things will happen on later on. THEN out comes the deal. Just pay 1k and ill get it back, which I did out of adrenaline rush and caution(I know we had the right to file for an anti-fencing in this case),but we just wanted to leave with my phone and our lives intact :)

  7. jonaflormicfren
    Twitter: daniojr
    says:

    Very good!

  8. marc
    Twitter: md_manaloyahoo.com
    says:

    weh. hindi to true. walang cctv?!

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Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech. You Can follow him on Twitter @abeolandres.

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