Cellphone technology, footwork help catch thief in Victoria

Purchase of find my iPhone app proves good insurance for victim of theft

More than $4,000 worth of stolen photography equipment and an iPhone were recovered Tuesday thanks to some old-fashioned detective work and new technology.

While visiting Gonzales Beach, a man had his photography equipment stolen, along with the irreplaceable wedding and engagement photos on it.

Unbeknownst to the thief, the owner of the equipment had installed the Find my iPhone app on his cellphone. With the help of two constables, the man used the app to determine his phone was somewhere around Douglas and View streets.

The three went to the area, where they found a large group of people watching a street performance as part of the ongoing Busker Festival. The officers went over to the group, waited for a lull in the show and then had the victim activate the app, causing a high-pitched tone to come out of the phone.

A person in the group opened their bag to stop the noise, at which point police swooped in and arrested the individual.

An 18-year-old Saanich youth faces one count of possession of stolen property. He was released with a promise to appear for a future court date.

“We do get it every once in a while, but it’s not something that happens all the time,” VicPD Const. Mike Russell said of the use of the cellphone app to solve a theft.

“What’s often unique about these cases is the complainant is always along for the ride, because we need them with their technology. … It’s like a ride-along to get back your own stolen property.”

reporter@vicnews.com