An 18-year-old was murdered trying to retrieve his stolen iPhone. That didn't have to happen.
Jeremy Cook, an 18-year-old man from Brampton, Ontario, Canada, recently used Apple's Find My iPhone service to locate his lost iPhone. According to the report, Cook left his iPhone in the back of a taxi, and someone else had taken it. He traced the location, confronted whoever had the phone, and was shot to death. It's a very sad story, and it's a good reminder about not jeopardizing your personal safety.
My customers occasionally ask me if Find My iPhone is good at recovering stolen gear. My answer is an unequivocal no.
Cook's case, as reported by the CBC, is an extreme example. But it's not unique: There have been a few similar reports over the years.
As many of you know, I spend my weekends working in an Apple retailer. My customers occasionally ask me if Find My iPhone is good at recovering stolen gear. My answer is an unequivocal no. As far as I'm concerned, that's the wrong question to ask.
"Find My iPhone/iPad" and "Find My Mac" are great tools if you've misplaced an Apple device. Did I drop my iPhone in a seat cushion someplace? Awesome. Let me ping it so I can find it. (I've already pinged my iPhone once or twice using the Glance on my Apple Watch — terrifically convenient.) Did I leave the iPad in the seat-back pocket on the airplane? Ah, there it is, right outside Gate 28B! I should get it before the cleaning crew does! Did I leave my MacBook at my buddy's house before that bar crawl last night? Yep. Wow, maybe I should have laid off the tequila, because I don't remember doing that.
These are the sort of questions Find my iPhone and Find my Mac can help answer, along, hopefully, with some introspection that might lead to being more careful with your expensive gear.
I've used Find My iPhone a few times when I've left my iPhone lying around the house. One time, it got buried in a stack of magazines that were taken out for recycling. Another time, it fell out of my pocket in the car and went under the seat where I couldn't see it. In these cases, Find My iPhone was invaluable to help me recover it.
Once my wife used Find My iPhone when it fell out of her purse at a sports arena where we'd gone to see a hockey game. She didn't realize until we were already 15 miles away. No one had picked it up yet, thank goodness, so it was a simple matter to go back and retrieve it.
An ounce of prevention, it is said, is worth a pound of cure, so take precautions that will help you avoid these problems.
What these tools don't do is give you superpowers, armor plating, or a badge. There are some awful people out there: People who might hurt you if they've taken something of yours and you confront them directly. The best thing to do is to report the theft to police and let them do their job.
An ounce of prevention, it is said, is worth a pound of cure, so take precautions that will help you avoid these problems. Make it a point to check that you have everything with you before you go out, and don't be afraid to write notes to yourself or whatever else you need to do to remind yourself where you've put your things. And when stuff goes missing, feel free to use the tools at your disposal like Find My iPhone to locate them.
Just be careful. And remember, as beloved as it is, your iPhone or your iPad or your Mac is only an object. They are all replaceable. You, however, are not.