iDetective – In Pursuit of iPads, iPhones and iPods
Yesterday I was ready a few articles on a topic that I am interested in … the use of technology to assist owners and police in the recovery of stolen property … and specially the use of the “Find my iPhone” app by Apple.
I am a bit of a fan of the app and have it installed on all of my iDevices. But I thought that many people out there may not know how all this works … so here is a summary … Find My iPhone is a cool free app by Apple that enables you to find your iPhone, iPod and iPad almost anywhere in the world as long as you meet the requirements below. It really is that simple
What do you need to do for it to work?
- iOS 5 or OS X Lion v10.7.2 is required for iCloud users (iOS 3.1.3 or later is required for MobileMe users).
- iCloud account (available free with iOS 5 or OS X Lion) or MobileMe account is required (and for it to be set-up o your device)
- Internet connection is required (wither via Wifi or 3G).
- Battery life on the device (if it has no battery it won’t work)
What does it do?
- Locate your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac on a map
- Display a message on the screen
- Play a sound for two minutes at full volume (even if your device is set to silent)
- Remotely lock your device
- Remotely wipe your device to erase your personal data
In May police from Cabramatta Local Area Command in NSW said they had charged two men after a tracking app in an iPhone assisted with their investigation. And last December Victoria Police also successfully used tracking software and a helicopter last December to locate a boy who allegedly stole a woman’s iPhone from a hospital in Melbourne’s north-east. There have also been countless overseas cases of people tracking down their stolen iPhones, iPads and MacBooks using tracking software. In these cases police have had no issues with using the evidence.
However yesterday what sparked my interest was a new case in Canberra that to me just sounds a bit crazy (and often there is more to a story than what is reported). The short version is
- that a man discovered his iPad stolen.
- He hunted it down with the Find my iPhone App. He went to the location .. walked around the property and looked in a window.
- The man went to police with the information but was apparently unable to elicit action.
- The man went back to the townhouse a second time and used the app to remotely trigger the alarm on the iPad, which he then heard ringing inside the garage.
- Police then obtained a search warrant for a house where Alden Harder lived.
- They allegedly discovered the iPad and a haul of other items, including laptops and a police officer’s badge, which were said to have been stolen from as far back as 2009.
But then here comes the crazy bit … the inventive lawyer for the Mr Arder argued that the man physically trespassed on his client’s property while searching for the iPad and had also committed ”trespass via radio wave” when he activated an alarm on the device while it was inside Mr Harder’s house. Why is this important … well if the information used to obtain the search warrant was illegal the evidence found in the garage can’t be used in court. Therefore no conviction.
I will have to say I agree 100% with the prosecutor on this one and think that this is the most ridiculous use of the laws of trespass. Seriously … but what the prosecutors also raised (something I had not heard of before) is that even if you followed the notion of trespass as being correct … as the iPad owner knew or believed the device was stolen and was exercising a ”claim of right” by going around trying to find it – a full defence to trespass.
What do you think? Should someone using technology like the Find my iPhone App be able to track down their lost/stolen property and that information be legally available to the police as a tool for gaining warrants or access to potentially incriminating evidence that may lead to a criminal conviction? Or does that equate to an illegal search and using this technology is invasive?
While I am not a lawyer or an expert of any kind in criminal law or practice … IMHO if you own something and there is technology available to help you find it … then hell yeah it should be used. And if that also gives evidence to the police that may result in an arrest or conviction … then hell yeah they should be able to use it.
What do you think?