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Let's Track My Stolen Cell Phone!

Steven Blum
6

Weary and jetlagged, I left my Xperia ARC (and my wallet!) in the backflap buttcrack of the seat in front of me on a trip from Seattle to London and didn't realize I had left it there until I was already through security and on a second flight to Berlin. I was resigned to being phoneless for awhile, and having to apologize profusely to Fabi for entrusting a shiny new phone to me only to have it disappear. Then, completely out of the blue, I got a message in my GMail inbox that someone had activated Google Latitude on my phone. Well, that's funny, I thought, because I don't have my phone anymore to activate such services. Then it hit me: whoever had found my phone had turned on Latitude, perhaps on accident!

Frantic, I opened up Google Latitude, expecting to find the phone at someone's house. Oh how I missed my shiny silver ARC. Where did the perp live? I glared at my screen.

It was at the Munich airport.

"It's still on the plane!" I blurted aloud to the entire AndroidPIT office, and Aaron and Kamal leapt over to take a look. "Let's call it!" Aaron exclaimed.We called it.

No answer.

I refreshed the screen.

The phone had moved, and was now stationed in a plane sitting at Terminal C. I called British Airways, but they could only connect me to a lost and found in Frankfurt. Finally, they gave me the number for the desk in Munich.

"Hello, my name is Steven and I left my phone on a flight from Seattle to Berlin, and the phone is now at Munich airport," I told the woman from British Airways. "Is there any way to retrieve a phone left on a plane?"

"If a phone has been found, it will go in the lost and found," she replied. "No," I said. "You don't understand. The phone is ON the plane, like, right now. It's sitting at the gate."

I refreshed my screen. Suddenly, the location had changed.

"Oh no," I said. "What?" the woman asked. "The phone is driving down the freeway." I hung up.

Whoever had taken my phone was driving quickly to a city called Ismaning just north of Munich. Finally, they arrived at what appeared to be their house.

"We're going there!" exclaimed Aaron. "Seriously, I know people there. They can get your phone back." "I think they'll call someone in my phonebook," I replied, still hopeful that the phone would be returned and that people, generally, are not kleptomaniacs. "Maybe they have a good heart. I bet I'll get it back."

The location stared back at me from my computer. Whoever had taken had the good sense to activate Latitude. They were communicating with me. They must want to return it.

I refreshed the screen.

Now they were on a train. Suddenly, I realized: I could be staring at my cell phone all day moving across Munich, with no way to do anything about it.

The wonderful thing about Google Latitude is that you can track your phone, so long as no one wipes it or de-activates your Google account. The terrible thing about Google Latitude is that you can't do anything else but stare at your phone on a map. Maybe the phone will be returned, maybe it won't. At this point, there's no way of knowing. If anyone in Munich as any creative ideas, though, let me know.

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Comments

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  • Yan Matusevich Oct 18, 2011 Link

    OMG! This is nuts! I am strapped to my seat. Can't you call the police or something? Really wish I could help you right now!

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  • Steven Blum Oct 18, 2011 Link

    Just a little update: after tracking the alleged thief all around Munich (he/she went to a hair salon, theater and a park), the phone is now hovering, again, over Munich Airport. I just called their lost and found, hopefully will hear back soon.

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  • red Oct 18, 2011 Link

    This is a GREAT read! It's a mystery and a who done it that needs solving. Do keep us informed!

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    Ludwig Hubert Oct 18, 2011 Link

    Oh, damn... I hope you will get it back soon!

    Have you tried calling it again? Maybe the person didn't hear it the first time...
    Furthermore, what's about you battery? I don't think it will stay on for a long time, because of the enabled GPS and 3G...

    Good luck!

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  • Jeremy Harrington Jul 27, 2012 Link

    hey man im right there with you. im a computer tech and two nights ago on a service call someone helped themselves to my brand new samsung charge Droid phone and also my wallet which i keep in my micro toolbox while i work. i was so tired i didnt notice it until yesterday. and then today i realized that my secondary wallet was missing. after a quick check to online banking i realized the truth of it. more than five hundred dollars in transactions have been made in the past two days. ive tried to track my droid but somehow its been no-joy and whoever has it knows the security system. ive got Lookout, wheres my droid, and a couple others, but they have shut it down completely, probably to keep me from wiping it and tracking them. i will file a police report tomorrow, and just go back to using a regular phone bc they wiped me out and i didnt have insurance,,,,i know dumb. but im forty three and still think i know everything sometimes. i guess sometimes the higher ups have to snap you back down a rung or two. im sure i will get my money back from the bank. Maybe. you see i kept a folder on my phone that had my various pin numbers, and i was told that this could prevent me from gettint my money back. i do believe in karma and i can only be honest. six weeks into a two year contract with verizon. anyone got smartphone being used for a paper weight or doorstop that is in need of a good home

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  • Shahzad Ali Jun 5, 2013 Link

    hi , i just want to know if i can trace some one by his mobile number that person stole my money & impotent papers i only have his number 0027842999291
    pleas help me if u can thanks

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