Thief Steals iPhone While Victim Is Participating In GPS Tracking Demo

On Monday, a man in San Francisco rode his bike up to a woman holding an iPhone and snatched it out of her hand, then took off. What he didn’t know was that the woman had just walked out of her company’s office to test a new GPS program that provides real time tracking. She went back inside, gave the police location updates over the phone, and man was arrested a half-mile away, reports the San Francisco Chronicle’s Crime Scene blog.

“San Francisco’s unluckiest thief” [San Francisco Chronicle] (Thanks to Paul!)


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  1. areaman says:

    In related news… Steve Jobs blames the woman for holding the phone “unsafely.”

  2. c!tizen says:

    That’s what you get for being too cheap to buy your own.

  3. justdragit says:

    Guess they now know it works.

  4. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    The thief was a plant to provide a more entertaining test of the GPS feature.

    • @BadCSR says:

      That is exactly what I thought. A great story about a thief getting his comeuppance is always a good bet for some free viral marketing.

  5. Eat The Rich -They are fat and succulent says:

    This was way too convenient.

    OTOH, perhaps the “thief” was just trying to assist the lady with improving the reception on the phone.

  6. nffcnnr says:

    Is that an artist’s rendering of the thief?
    I’ve seen that guy around before.

  7. Cyniconvention says:

    For all of the open iPhones to steal, he took the one using a tracking demo.
    There’s a lesson to be learned here; Sometimes, thieves never prosper.

    • georgi55 says:

      I see what you did there. or didn’t

    • Difdi says:

      If you do a cost/benefit analysis on almost any criminal act, you get some pretty ridiculous results. The old saying about crime not paying really is true, in that most crimes have what sound like huge payoffs, but actually pay less on an hourly basis than waiting tables and always getting stiffed on the tip. And that assumes the police don’t recover what the thief stole.

      Figure: You steal $100,000 from a bank, and the odds strongly favor being caught. Assuming you get away, and manage to keep the money, and have no accomplices to split it with (or they all get caught), well, you’ll be on the run for the rest of your life. Figure you live another 50 years. 50 x 365 x 8 (/ 100000) = $0.68 an hour. And with your $5.44 a day (figured against the average hourly work day) you get constantly being hunted by the cops, having to live in fear, and when your accomplices (if any) get out, they’ll want their cut of the robbery too. Even assuming you somehow got away with ten such robberies, you’d still make less than minimum wage.

      It’s even worse if you get caught but the cops don’t find the loot. Instead of 8 hour work days, you get to calculate it as 24 hour work days, living in prison for 10-20 years. At $0.22 an hour. And any accomplices will still want their cut of that.

      And if the cops do find the loot? You don’t get paid at all.

      Only stupid people commit robberies, because even the most successful ones pay less than jobs that involve phrases such as “do you want fried with that?”

      • Mr. Pottersquash says:

        Actually, theres statute of limitations, so you would not be on the run your entire life. And even with, cops give up, you become a cold case afterwhile, ppl move on. Frankly, Id wager if you stole 100,000 if you remain evasie for 10 years youd be free and clear. Plus your accounting doesnt acknowledge that I am free to continue to earn a wage doing something else.

        Not saying we should be crooks, but your math is way way off.

      • coren says:

        True, but I only work about 250 days out of the year, and I won’t work another 50 i don’t think (maybe 40 or 35) so that lowers it. But yeah, in that example it’s still not cost effective.

      • smo0 says:

        Financial Advisor to Criminals… should be a new job title.

      • jessjj347 says:

        Plus, you still have to pay taxes on what you stole…even if the cops take the stuff back. Suckers!

      • xxmichaelxx says:

        “Figure: You steal $100,000 from a bank, and the odds strongly favor being caught.”

        This isn’t quite true. You have about a 60% chance of being caught, according to wikipedia. But this will vary greatly from bank to bank, depending on location and getaway route. Rob a bank near a freeway on-ramp — especially near a major interchange — and you’re probably good to go.

        There was a bank near where I worked in Mission Valley, San Diego, that was always getting robbed. Eventually they just relocated the bank branch because no one was ever caught – it was too easy to get away.

    • Don_Thate says:

      Sixty percent of the time, they prosper. Every time.

    • cmdr.sass says:

      Correction: Stupid thieves never prosper. Smart ones go into politics.

  8. Audi_addict says:

    PR stunt/viral marketing. Total BS.

    • fatediesel says:

      A PR Stunt usually doesn’t involve someone being booked by the police for grand theft and possession of stolen property.

      • Dunkelzahn says:


        They couldn’t pay me enough to have a felony on my record. Unless it was enough to keep me afloat without needing a job, which I wouldn’t be able to get due to the felony record.

  9. Awesome McAwesomeness says:


  10. athensguy says:

    Next time he’ll know to turn the phone off!

  11. Caprica Six says:

    I’m curious how SFPD responded so fast?! :-)

    • Damocles57 says:

      The guy paused outside a doughnut shop where a few officers were just finishing their jelly-de-jour.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      Crimes in progress usually trump completed crimes. More so if there is a way to track the criminal, as they may lead you back to their “lair/headquarters”.

    • yankinwaoz says:

      Because the cops were told it was a prototype of the iPhone 5.

  12. evilpete says:

    I think this is the 3rd or 4th such story in SF over the last few years

  13. Dunkelzahn says:

    Real men of genius!

    We salute you, Horatio Toure.

    Mr. steals a phone during a GPS demonstration guy!

    He stole a phone on a bike, only to get caught because they were tracking the location of the phone in real time.

    Got caught a few blocks away!

    Thanks to you, this company did not have to spend any money in ad dollars to push their product.

  14. dg says:

    It works! Seriously, back in the 90’s when this kind of technology was introduced for high-end property, it was being demoed at the security show out in Vegas.

    At the booth across from the tracking guys was a high-def camera vendor.

    Some moron comes in and grabs a laptop from the high-end property booth. when they discover it gone, they look at the tapes from the high-def guys and find out it was stolen. So they call the cops. Tell them exactly where it was, where it was heading, and what the fool looked like – down to the zits on his face…

    Laptop recovered. Crook in jail. Lots of sales for the high-def and tracking guys that day…