WESTCHASE — "I have a crazy story to share," Mary Anne Kirsch posted on her Facebook page last week.
Earlier that day, her daughter's cellphone had gone missing from a backpack at school.
"I was fired up," said Kirsch, a personal trainer and fitness instructor.
Makenna Kirsch, 11, last saw her iPhone when she stuck it in a side pocket. The Davidsen Middle School student had left the backpack on some bleachers while she played rookie rugby during physical education.
Makenna first noticed it was gone when she wanted to text her mother because her bus was late.
At home, her mother called the school, but then remembered that she had downloaded an iPhone app that locates phones. From her own phone, Kirsch pressed a button: Find Makenna's phone.
A GPS map showed the phone in an area off Hillsborough Avenue and Memorial Highway.
Kirsch was apprehensive as she drove closer to the site where her cellphone map showed the phone. The property looked like public housing, she said.
She asked a woman where she was. "The Children's Home."
Kirsch got a supervisor and tracked the phone to a gym full of kids. The campus provides foster care to dozens of abused and neglected children. Kirsch couldn't go in, but the supervisor quieted the children while Kirsch, outside, activated a beacon on the phone.
The supervisor returned with Makenna's phone.
Irene Rickus, chief executive at the Children's Home, said a girl handed the phone over immediately when the alarm sounded. The girl said she had permission to borrow the phone.
"It sounds like the situation was handled appropriately," Rickus said.
Kirsch said her daughter never loaned her phone, which was a birthday present. She uses it when she forgets something or is running late, and to email her dad, Vince Kirsch, who is deployed in Afghanistan.
After hearing the detective story, Kirsch's friends all wanted to know: "What's the app?"
"Find my iPhone."
Elisabeth Parker can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3431.