Stolen hi-tech phone helps police track thief

July 25th, 2010 - 4:58 pm ICT by IANS  

London, July 25 (IANS) A thief who stole an Apple iPhone from its owner’s hands was arrested by police in the US, minutes after being tracked by global positioning system (GPS) software.
Horatio Toure, 31, snatched the highly-sought after phone from the hands of a software company employee who was testing a new application in San Francisco earlier this week.

But the hapless thief was arrested by police just nine minutes later after the iPhone tracked his every move, reports the Telegraph.

The phone was being used to test a new real-time tracking application, which had been produced by Covia Labs, a software company based in the San Francisco Bay suburb of Mountain View.

David Kahn, the company’s chief executive, said he sent the 23-year-old female intern, who has not been named, out to walk around the block during a demonstration for a client.

The software is designed to help police and the military track officers in the field.

But as Kahn and his client David Fonkalsrud watched a live map of the phone’s location on his computer they became puzzled by how quickly the image was moving down the street.

Police said Toure had escaped by bicycle.

“We kind of noticed while that was happening, boy, she was really starting to move pretty fast and she wasn’t heading back toward the place,” Kahn told the San Jose Mercury News.

“Moments later she came bursting into the office and said she’d just been mugged,” he said.

Kahn said he used the software to track the thief’s movements while the intern called police.

“It was pretty exciting to realise what was going on and wondering if he had noticed,” Kahn said.

“I actually had an adrenaline rush. Obviously if he had turned off the phone that would have been it.”

Fonkalsrud added: “It probably sounds almost unreal. It’s almost as if it’s a bank robber picking a day to rob a bank when there are five police officers in the branch.”

The pair denied the incident was a publicity stunt.

Albie Esparza, a San Francisco Police spokeswoman, said: “That’s pretty effective software, I would say.”

“Criminals are opportunistic…But I’m sure even criminals won’t take a chance if they know that there’s a tracking device.”

Toure was later charged with theft and possession of stolen property after the intern identified him as the thief. He will appear in court at a later date.

An Apple spokesman was unavailable for comment.

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