I have heard plenty of accounts of Find My iPhone coming through in a pinch to prevent theft, or to track down a thief after the fact. Apple’s service is solid and reliable enough to be accepted and recognized as a legitimate data source by most police departments, making it the ideal first response tool to retrieve a lost or stolen iPhone. If you have an iPhone or other iOS device and don’t have this feature turned on, why not? If you don’t, you might reconsider after reading the following story.
Normally when we hear of stories of Find My iPhone preventing a theft, it is one or two devices belonging to a single owner. Last week, Alyssa Pereira of the San Francisco Chronicle ran a story about Find My iPhone coming through in a MUCH bigger way at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. 36 year old New York resident Reinaldo De Jesus Henao evidently had a LOT of success relieving festival-goers of their iPhones and other smartphones at or around the “Sahara” tent, resulting in chatter on social media and Reddit.
As attendees who realized they had lost their iPhones began to start tracking them using Find My iPhone on another device, until multiple discovered that their “dots” were following the movements of Mr Henao. Indio, CA Police were notified, and when he was arrested, Mr Henao had over 100 devices on him. As good as he was at getting them off of attendees, Mr Henao wasn’t smart enough to turn any of them off, so that he could at least flee the scene before Find My iPhone ratted him out.
According to Ms Pereira’s article, around 20 phones were returned to their owners immediately, while the rest were left at the Coachella Festival’s Lost and Found. Hopefully, the rest of the victims found their way there and retrieved their missing phones. As for Mr Henao, he was charged with grand theft and receiving stolen property, and was later released on $10,000 bail.
This is just one of many real-world lessons on how valuable Apple’s Find My iPhone feature can be. If you ask any of the more than 100 phone owners at Coachella who could have easily lost their devices for good, I think they would agree.