Detailed on Techcrunch this week, police were able to capture two suspects in an armed robbery case by tracking the suspect’s location with Apple’s Find My iPhone application. On Thursday night, five women were standing in front of the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Atlanta when two armed men approached the group. The two men pointed guns at the group of women and demanded all of their purses along with electronics devices like smartphones. After police responded to the incident, they learned that one of the devices stolen was an iPhone. Using the Find My iPhone app, police were able to use the GPS location of the iPhone to locate the two suspects in an apartment complex. After taking the two suspects into custody, the five women positively identified both men as the armed thieves.
As tracking applications have become popular, more police departments are taking advantage of the feature to nab criminals. In New York City, the Times points out that after a 21-year-old man stole an iPhone from a 34-year-old woman in Brooklyn, police were able to track him down in less than an hour using the Find My iPhone app. During September, a man in West Los Angeles stabbed a women in order to steal her iPhone, but police were able to take him into custody within five hours after using the the Find My iPhone app to locate him in Pasadena.
In Colorado, a man returned to his locker in a recreational center only to find that all his belongings were stolen. Again using the Find My iPhone app, all his possessions were recovered after tracking the suspect to a nearby library. Earlier this week, a carjacking suspect was taken into custody after police were able to track his exact location using the Find My iPad application.
When Apple rolls out the iOS 6 update for all iPhone models next week, the updated version of the Find My iPhone will feature a new security function. In iOS 6, the app includes a an option called Lost Mode that allows the iPhone owner to send a message and phone number to the handset. If someone happens to find the iPhone, they will only see the message and phone number when attempting to access the smartphone.
All other functions of the phone are locked remotely using the four digit lock screen code for protection once the Find My iPhone app has been enabled. However, Apple also includes a green “Call” button that allows the the person that found the iPhone to call the owner immediately from the iPhone. This feature is somewhat similar to Prey, software for laptops and Android smartphones that allows the user to lock down access to stolen hardware.
In the beta version of iOS 6, Apple is continuing to use the mapping data from Google within the Find My iPhone app rather than shift to the new version of Maps. It’s possible that Apple needs further time to integrate the new mapping data into the application and is simply relying on Google during the interim.