Thieves target iPhone, Android phone users

Apps help victims track down stolen phones

Published On: Aug 30 2012 04:47:24 PM EDT   Updated On: Aug 22 2012 08:14:10 PM EDT
CLERMONT, Fla. -

If you have an Android or an iPhone, you may be a target for thieves.

Local 6 found several recent cases where thieves swiped, even attacked people, for smartphones.

The good news: there are several apps for both iPhones and Androids that you can download for free to track your phone through GPS.

Local 6 also found several recent cases where people have been able to track down their stolen phone by using a tracking app.

The bad news: the apps typically only work if the phone is powered on.
Crime victim Karyn Eade said she learned that the hard way. Eade accidentally left her iPhone at a Publix in Clermont.

"You've got stuff on there that I know this lady doesn't care about, but it means a lot to our family," said Eade.

You can see in the surveillance video from Publix, Eade buys stuffed animals for her two children, but she accidentally leaves her white iPhone on the counter.

"My eldest son's VPK graduation is on there and we lost that," said Eade.

Look at what happens next. The woman behind Eade also goes through the check-out line, but 30 seconds later she returns and swipes Eade's iPhone.

Once Eade realized her phone was missing she tried to use her tracking app.

"But apparently she had disabled the GPS and she had turned the phone off," said Eade. "Once we knew that she had turned the phone off, we knew that it wasn't coming back."

"We see that type of theft very frequently and hopefully we'll bring that person to justice," said Clermont Police Chief Charles Broadway.

Chief Broadway advocates using tracking apps, passcodes even wiping your device once it's gone to prevent identity theft.

Broadway says if caught a smart phone thief faces up to one year behind bars.

"Usually iPhones are over $300 which constitutes a grand theft, a felony," said Chief Broadway.

Meantime, Eade is now making a habit of backing up her pictures and other important information on her phone.

"Everybody knows they need to back up their computer and they need to continuously back up their phone and yet you don't do it probably as often as you should so I guess I learned my lesson the hard way," said Eade.

The woman who stole Eade's iPhone is still on the run.