TWO crime-fighting parents have tracked down the man who had burgled their home - using the iPhone he had stolen. The Coolum couple was told they would never see up to $10,000 worth of electronics that had been stolen from their home.
Richard and Bree Hale slept through the midnight burglary, waking to find Mr Hale's iPhone 4 and a swag of other belongings had been nicked. A police officer lodged a report so that the couple could claim their losses on insurance. But Mr Hale realised that he could track his stolen iPhone with a locator app.
He had installed the Find My iPhone app uses the GPS capabilities of the phone to pinpoint the missing device on a map.
The morning after they were robbed, Mr Hale tracked the iPhone to a Woolworths at Coolum Beach.
Mr Hale raced to the supermarket and narrowed his search to a handful of car parks where he thought the stolen phone might be.
The suspect vehicle had already left and the signal was lost, presumably because the thief had turned off the phone.
It was back on by 11am.
An email alerted Mrs Hale that the iPhone had been located again, this time in Maroochydore.
Google maps pinpointed it to be outside an Optus store, which Mrs Hale quickly rang.
"I rang the store and they said a guy just came in trying to remove a SIM card from an iPhone," Mrs Hale said. "They said 'I think he's still sitting in his car'."
The man had not left the car park.
Mrs Hale asked the person on the other end of the line for a description of the suspect and the number plates of his car.
With the fresh information she phoned police.
Even with a new SIM card, the GPS could still track because it was following the phone and not the SIM card.
Mr and Mrs Hale watched as the criminal drove past the Maroochydore police station as they tried to convince officers they knew where their stolen goods were headed.
"The whole thing was just bizarre," Mrs Hale said. "We literally just watched him driving."
The suspect headed on to the motorway back towards Coolum, where police eventually nabbed him.
The arresting officers found most of the stolen items, including an iPod and its dock, a portable DVD player, 11 DVDs, a wallet, power chords and a handbag.
Mrs Hale said the man had stolen between $5000 and $10,000 worth of electronics from their home.
Leon Robert Winch, 35, was jailed for 12 months after pleading guilty to the offences this week.
FIND MY iPHONE
Find My iPhone is a free download from the app store. Once installed on your iPhone, it will let you use another iOS device to find it and protect your data.
Find My iPhone locates the missing device on a map. You can then choose to display a message or play a sound, remotely lock your device or erase your data on it.