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Thief steals 100 phones at Coachella, underestimates find-my-phone tech

Why it matters to you

Setting up and using a phone-tracking app is simple and well worth your time, as over 100 revelers at Coachella recently discovered.

Tracking technology for smartphones, whether it’s Apple’s Find My iPhone or Google’s Android Device Manager system, really can reunite you with a stolen or misplaced phone. Sometimes it can go above and beyond, and reunite many people with many phones in one go, and help police apprehend the nasty piece of work that took them in first place. One lowlife thief discovered this the hard way at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

More than 100,000 people attend the Coachella festival in California, but not everyone is there to have a good time. One man, subsequently identified as 36-year-old New Yorker Reinaldo De Jesus Henao, came to steal smartphones. He wandered the festival space, pickpocketing his marks, and stashing the stolen goods in his backpack. When people began to notice their phones were missing, many decided to enlist the help of their respective find-my-phone service.

The stolen phones showed up as still being in the area, and owners were able to pinpoint their exact location, which was given to security personnel on site. Luckily, the thief wasn’t clever enough to turn off all the devices after nabbing them. In a statement released by the Indio Police Department, the pickpocket was apprehended and upon opening his backpack, more than 100 stolen phones were discovered inside. Devices were returned to owners who had already discovered their phones were missing, while the rest wait to be collected. Henao was arrested for theft and possession of stolen property.

While things worked out here, and the phones were returned with help from security and the police, we’d always recommend contacting law enforcement rather than go searching for a stolen phone using a tracking system yourself. Thieves are rarely nice people, and confronting them on your own isn’t a good idea. Find My iPhone and Android Device Manager are equally useful if you accidentally leave your phone somewhere, rather than it getting stolen. There are also plenty of other tracking services for phones out there, for both before and after you lose it.