Clear66° WeatherClear66° Weather

Gadgets & Gizmos

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Important safety tip: Don't track down your stolen iThing on your own

"Sign in at iCloud.com or use the Find My iPhone app to see your missing iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac on a map," reads Apple's description. "And with the Lost Mode feature you don’t just see where your device is, you can track where it’s been. That way you can decide on your best course of action. You can immediately lock your device and send it a message with a contact number. Then whoever finds it can call you from the Lock screen without accessing the rest of the information on your device."

Apple Inc.

"Sign in at iCloud.com or use the Find My iPhone app to see your missing iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac on a map," reads Apple's description. "And with the Lost Mode feature you don’t just see where your device is, you can track where it’s been. That way you can decide on your best course of action. You can immediately lock your device and send it a message with a contact number. Then whoever finds it can call you from the Lock screen without accessing the rest of the information on your device."

The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW, for short) makes an important point today, in discussing a recent story of Sarah Maguire, a California woman who tracked down the perpetrator who'd taken her phone (and her roommate's) and persuaded them to return them.

The important point: No one should never, ever do this.

While Maguire says police told her that's what she should do — and to call them back if she felt like she was in danger — common sense would lead one to recognize some horrible advice. The Internet is chock-full of accounts in which law enforcement officials have advised iPhone owners that the Find My iPhone service is too unreliable to get police involved in an investigation; it's also chock-full of accounts in which law enforcement officials have recovered stolen iPhones by doing exactly that.

"Find My iPhone vigilantes aren't a new trend,  and their failings are well documented," Mike Wehner writes for TUAW. "Taking matters into their own hands, individuals have gotten into violent altercations with the people found to be holding their precious gadgets, and have even accidentally attacked the wrong people, ending up behind bars themselves."

If you have Find My iPhone activated on your phone — and you should — you can include the information it provides when you file a police report. You can also use it to remotely wipe your personal data from the phone to protect your privacy, and use Apple's built-in "kill switch" to make it useless to anyone who doesn't have your iCloud password. But don't do anything to risk your own personal safety.

[Last modified: Monday, May 5, 2014 2:35pm]

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...