By Tom Kertscher of the Journal Sentinel
Posted: Feb. 15, 2010
Oak Creek — A man whose iPhone was stolen while he was in church used GPS tracking to lead police to the home of the suspect, who confessed to that theft and a number of others.
"It's certainly a tactic that we look for all the time," Oak Creek Police Chief Tom Bauer said Monday.
But he wasn't sure his force had ever recovered a stolen phone quite this way.
Tiernan Paine decided to leave his $400 iPhone in his Toyota Camry while he attended services Thursday night at Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses in Oak Creek. The 28-year-old Wauwatosa resident didn't lock the doors, and he left the popular cell phone in plain view.
Later that night, after discovering the theft, Paine remembered that he subscribes to MobileMe, a service for his iPhone that synchronizes data between his phone and his home computer.
Only then did he discover that the service includes a few other features, including a global positioning system.
Paine said he used his computer and the satellite feature to pinpoint on a map where his phone was at that moment. He also was able to see a picture of the suspect's home.
Paine printed the material and took it to the Oak Creek Police Department that night.
The next day, he - and another church member who also had a phone stolen out of her car that night - had their gadgets back.
Bauer said the suspect confessed to about a half dozen thefts from parked cars.
Paine said he felt lucky not only because he stumbled upon the GPS capability but also because he had taken advantage of another MobileMe feature. He used his home computer to send a text message to his iPhone telling the suspect to return the phone or he would call the police.
"That might have been stupid, but (the police) got there soon enough, I guess," Paine said.
Paine said the suspect used his phone to make a few calls, send a text to his girlfriend and to visit some Web sites, but it appeared to be in perfect working order.
Paine wasn't the only happy iPhone customer. His phone is owned by his employer, Organic Market in Slinger.
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