Had a enlightening and infuriating afternoon today.
At 5:45, I was sitting in a Starbucks coffee shop having a latte and a piece of cheese cake with my lovely wife. A small boy of middle eastern appearance and with an accent to match who must of been about ten years old, came over to our table and showed some leaflet muttering incoherently about “this is coffee”.
Bemused at what he was talking about, I placated with a “yes” and smiled and he then left.
As he left, my wife asked where my iPhone was – thirty seconds before the kid arrived it was on the table in front of me.
It had of course gone.
Realising quickly what had happened, I chased after the boy, who by then had run out of the mall and (according to a passer by) met up with another kid and apparently got onto a bus.
Walking back to find a mall security guard (two met me on the way – my wife had got to them first) – I remembered that because it was an iPhone and I have a subscription to Mobile Me (Apple’s cloud data service) I could track the whereabouts of the phone on the me.com website.
I told the mall security officer this and we walked promptly to the recently opened Apple dealer. I quickly explained the issue to a member of staff and they allowed me to log into the me.com website and we tracked the phone.
We called the police while watching my phone travel along a local bus route. We could see the phone stop at bus stops and then carry on it’s route. One of the shop assistants said that she knew the route (the 86) and we told the police where they could find the bus. We were told that they could not send anyone out as they couldn’t “chase around Romford after a bus”. I told them they wouldn’t be chasing around as I knew where the bus was and they could just drive there and pick the little git up.
Instead they told me they were going to send “a unit” to the shop to take details (even though they had taken all the info over the phone).
While we were waiting someone from Romford police station called me and I had to give all the information I just told the CAD operator.
By now I had sent a message to the phone saying that the police were on their way and that we knew the brat was on the 86 bus and in Goodmayes and that he should give the phone to the bus driver.
The office turned up after about 15 minutes (while we watched the kid get off the bus and go to a MacDonalds on our Hybrid Google Map display within me.com’s website.). He was a PCSO who although very nice and apologetic, was unable to do anything apart from take the details of the crime again (third time lucky perhaps). He couldn’t even fill out a crime report.
After giving the info to the PCSO, I went back to the terminal and it had stopped updating. We tried calling the phone and it was off, going to voice mail.
It was gone. The police were useless and were not going to chase the bus. I was not going to get it back.
I decided to hit the kill switch on the website and remotely wipe the phone. I wish I had done this before I lost contact with it, as then I could be sure my data would be safe. As it is, I can only hope that the device will be wiped when it starts back up or when they try too many times to unlock it.
At any rate, I have done all I can to protect myself now.
The system will email me to tell me when the wipe has begun, until then I just have to wait. The SIM has been cancelled however so I am not that sure if it will work.
Things I learned today.
• Don’t trust anyone, including innocent looking little kids.
• PCSOs although nice and all are just there to make it look good, they are as useful as a chocolate teapot.
• The police couldn’t give a crap about petty theft, and won’t do anything – even when you hand them the thieves on a plate.
• If you have an iPhone, don’t send messages to the thieves to alert them to the tracking or they will turn it off.
• Lastly Wipe the phone before they do turn it off – just to be sure, you can always get your data re synced later from Mobile Me or the Mac/PC you sync with.