Stolen - and then Found - An iPhone adventure.

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by emw, Sep 6, 2011.

  1. emw macrumors G4


    Aug 2, 2004
    I know I haven't been posting much around here the past couple of years, but this is one story that I had to share since - at least to me - it is a pretty good tale. Sorry for the length, but it was quite an adventure.

    On August 4th we signed up with a new pest control service - a reputable company that I researched and felt comfortable with from both a product and customer service standpoint. We worked with one of their regional managers to get set up and scheduled a visit the very next Saturday morning - August 6th.

    The Friday before, our entire family spend the day with friends at a local amusement park and were out until late that night, getting to bed after midnight. We'd been told that the technician would be arriving between 8 and 10am, but had pretty much forgotten about that part.

    The Theft
    At 7:50am the technician rings our doorbell and it takes me a few seconds to realize what's going on. By the time I get down there my 4-year-old son is opening the door, the alarm is going off, and I'm running to shut it off before the cops show up. Which, in retrospect, would not have been a bad thing.

    In any case, as I'm shutting off the alarm, which is by my phone charger, I glance down and check a text that popped up on my iPhone 3GS and kind of register that I need to respond to it later. I let the tech in and he gets to work in the house.

    We're generally fairly trusting of workers from reputable firms that enter our house, but I'm hanging out a bit with the guy at first. I then decide to run upstairs quickly to fill my wife in and shut the other kids' doors, since they're still asleep and I don't want him going in there. I'm gone about 30 seconds.

    My wife stays upstairs to make sure the guy doesn't go into any of the kids' rooms and is with him the whole time he's upstairs. Which turns out to have been a very good idea. However, he goes into the basement on his own.

    After the guy leaves, I go to look for my phone and notice it's not there. I ask my wife and son if they've seen it, and they haven't. I try calling it with no results. I then start to question myself - did I really see it, did I leave it at the amusement park, was I mistaking it with my work iPhone, etc.

    Once I went into the basement and noticed that an old 2nd generation iPod 40GB we use for when we work out is missing, I call the company dispatcher and she calls the guy to have him come back "because he missed something". This was about 30-40 minutes after he left. In the meantime, my wife is calling the cops.

    He gets back to our house in about 3 minutes - long before the cops - and I confront him about the missing items. He seems nervous, but of course denies it. I search his truck, try calling the phone while around him and at the truck, etc., with no luck. Without any other real reason to keep him there, he leaves before the cops arrive.

    We fill out a police report (I still have the original boxes) and assume we'll never see it again. I go over in my head a hundred times things I should have done differently - threaten the guy, watch him more closely, whatever - but in the end, no iPhone, no iPod, and a morning spent canceling service, changing passwords, second-guessing keeping so much info on my (password protected) phone.

    The Sting
    Of course, I can't just let it go. I figure the guy has to get rid of it (surely he didn't steal them to keep them), so I'm going through craigslist items and find a phone that sounds like mine (white, screen protector, no headphones or cables - in other words, exactly like 2 million other iPhones), and contact him anonymously. He seems suspicious, though certainly isn't the tech that was in our home. Since I'm already in the mood to get somebody - anybody - who has my phone, I set up a meeting with him at a local Panera. My wife comes and goes to another booth to video the meeting on her iPhone.

    The guy shows up, it's not my phone, and it doesn't even work. He tries to convince me it was just working a minute ago and I should buy it, but there's no deal. I was hoping to, you know, crack an international iPhone theft ring, but left sorely disappointed.

    The Recovery
    So after basically writing it off and forgetting about it, almost 3 weeks later we get a call from the cops - they still don't have my phone but have more information. The tech has been fired, as the company got more reports after ours about problems with him, including someone reporting a stolen diamond and platinum ring (we got off easy). When cleaning out his truck they also found ladies underwear, presumably not his, so were checking with my wife to see if any were hers. They weren't. At this point, they still don't have anything but circumstantial evidence against the guy, so can't charge him with anything.

    Then, out of the blue about 3 days later, the phone rings again. It's a landscaper that found my phone and iPod in a yard not more than 1/2 mile from my house a day or two (from the sounds of it) after it was stolen. The tech likely just threw them out the window into a yard when we called him, figuring he didn't want any evidence on him and never went back to recover it.

    It had just taken a couple of weeks for the guy to figure out how to reach me - he eventually charged it, saw an alert that showed our phone number (I had left a voice mail) and called it. Amazingly, the phone still works and doesn't appear to be any worse for wear. The iPod, however, has a cracked screen and appears to be completely shot. Not a huge loss, but disappointing.

    We met the guy and I gave him a reward for returning the phone. I couldn't wipe the smile off of my face on the way back to the house, more due to the circumstances of the recovery than the recovery itself. Just crazy.

    The two biggest learnings from me were (1) don't trust anyone you don't know in your house and watch them carefully, and (2) despite the few bad eggs out there, honest people remain and good things can happen as a result.

    Just yesterday, while at our local village carnival, we were walking along and I saw what was probably a $100 or more pair of nice Oakley sunglasses. I could see them from a ways back (at that point, not knowing they were that nice, of course), and saw numerous people just walk past them. I grabbed them and turned them into lost and found - something I would have done anyway, even though it was quite a bit out of the way, but something that, for me, took on additional meaning knowing the effort my new landscaper friend made to get me my phone.
  2. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    That is quite a story. I had to leave my house to a pest control company and really could not do anything about it. There is too much to lock up and they had to go though the downstairs. I did put a few things upstairs that if they went up there would have been disturbed but still, that doesn't prevent theft.

    Glad you got your phone back but this guy seems like a total tool and could be dangerous. :(
  3. rdowns macrumors Penryn


    Jul 11, 2003
    Hey emw, nice to see you around. Great story.

    I am way too trusting of workmen in my house. I do put stuff away when they are scheduled to be here though.
  4. Firestar macrumors 68020


    Sep 30, 2010
    221B Baker Street.
    Interesting story. Good to know you got your iPhone back.

    Thanks for sharing, emw.
  5. fireshot91 macrumors 601


    Jul 31, 2008
    Northern VA
    Yupp great story. Good to hear you got your items back (Even if they weren't functional, in the case of the iPod).

    I personally don't really like to leave servicemen alone in my house. I always am following them around wherever they go, making sure they're doing their job, instead of doing anything else. Always better to be too cautious.
  6. emw thread starter macrumors G4


    Aug 2, 2004
    That was one of our concerns as well, especially since he was inside peoples' homes. Hopefully he won't get a similar chance in the future.

    Yeah, we'd just gotten back late the night before and weren't prepared. There was all sorts of stuff he could have taken had we not been around as much as we were.


    I certainly subscribe to that now as well...
  7. ess0616 macrumors newbie

    Oct 9, 2010
    I know this is a late post, but this is an awesome and inspirational, and am VERY glad that you actually were able to recover your iPhone and iPod. :)

    I'm actually in the same pickle as you were. I left my iPhone 4 in a bar, left to my truck for 2 minutes and when I came back, it was gone. There was only one person in the bar at 4pm, the owner. Of course he denied it, and right now, it just feels like I'm out of a phone. No Mobileme installed.

    But I read here and maybe good things would happen...

    Thanks for this...

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