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