Technology helps cops track stolen phones

HOUSTON Smart phones are expensive, so losing one or having it stolen can hurt your wallet, not to mention all the information about you that's held on the device. But with the technology available, lost or stolen phones can be easily recovered.

Susan Potts loves her iPhone, so when it went missing, she was happy to learn the phone could be tracked over the Internet.

She said, "We watched it actually move down the street, and it ended up pretty close to here."

Apparently someone grabbed the phone after Susan set it down in a restaurant. Thanks to the GPS locator in the iPhone, Susan and her husband could follow the phone's location online.

Jack Potts said, "We actually watched it track down Westheimer and down to the beltway and come to rest at an apartment complex."

The Potts then went to the apartment complex and called police.

"Fortunately enough, they came out and the officer that came out was very emphatic that we were going to get the phone back today because you have the location of it," Jack said.

Jack says the officer confronted the person living in the apartment where the GPS showed the phone was located.

"He gave them a last chance, five minutes," Jack recalled. "You can tell us and give us the phone now or we can wait five minutes, come in and find it, and we'll press charges. The phone showed up quickly thereafter."

Apparently the officer has experience recovering stolen iPhones.

Jack said, "This was his fifth one, and he said he had been able to contact Apple and get in even closer detail."

iPhone owners can get the tracking software when they buy Mobile Me for $99. Android users and many Blackberry users have access to the same technology, but it is included with their phones without an extra fee.

Blackberry user Lee Kochran said, "That's really good since I put my whole life on this thing, my calendar and my notes. It is very important to have my Blackberry. It would be tough to lose it."

A spokesperson for the Houston Police Department says it is up to the discretion of an officer whether or not to rely on a phone's GPS data when owners find a stolen device and officers are called to investigate.

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