Victim, Madison Police Track Down Stolen iPhone

Posted Thursday, April 19, 2012 --- 11:05 a.m.

From the Madison Police Department:

Incident Type:
Theft From Auto

Incident Date:
04/18/2012 - 5:45 PM

7401 Mineral Point Rd. (Shopko)

Carl D. Morris, age 25, Madison
Mr. Morris was arrested for Receiving Stolen Property.

Female, age 24, Lone Rock, WI

A 24-year-old Lone Rock woman partnered with the MPD Wednesday in a high-tech pursuit of an alleged thief.

Before it was over, numerous officers from various districts were engaged in a dragnet that went from the north side, thru the downtown, to the W. Beltline, down Gammon Rd., to Colony Dr. The track ended at a red-light on Monroe St. after a getaway car drove inbound on Mineral Point Rd. to Whitney Way, and then down Tokay Blvd.

Officers knew all of this because the victim could see the movements of her stolen iPhone by monitoring her home computer out in Iowa County. She was the pulse-point, the mission control of a successful criminal apprehension that would take place some 45-miles away.

It all started around 3:00 p.m. Wednesday when she left a car window cracked while making purchases at Shopko, 7401 Mineral Point Rd. She had tucked the iPhone under the driver’s seat. When she returned to the car she found someone was able to reach in through the cracked window and swipe the phone and other items.

She drove home, to Lone Rock, and was initially dealing with the MPD’s Self Report Unit. A Dane County Communications Center dispatcher upgraded the calls status after it was learned the victim was currently tracking the iPhone’s location, thanks to software she had downloaded onto the phone.

The time was 6:35 p.m., and a Madison officer was now on the phone with the victim, following her leads. The phone was showing near the far north side, and making frequent stops. It was determined it was likely on a bus. The phone was giving updated locations every 20 to 30 seconds, but it appeared there was s one or two minute delay in information getting to Lone Rock.

The MPD began coordinating with Madison Metro as the phone made its way inbound on Gorham St. North District officers handed the situation off to Central District officer who passed the baton to South District officers as the situation remained fluid, and was heading south. Two buses were stopped in the area of W. Washington Ave. and Park St. No suspect. The phone was still on the move.

One officer said if the victim would give him her phone’s login and password, he could use his personal iPhone to track in real-time. This was a game changer. It appeared the suspect was no longer on a bus, but in a vehicle that was moving from the far west to the Monroe St. corridor.

The officer, who was on the phone with the victim, tapped on the driver’s side window of a rental car, a silver 2012 Mazda, which was stopped for a red light at Monroe St. and Glenway St. The driver told the officer he was on his way to see his federal probation agent “to give my pee test.” He denied knowledge of a stolen phone.

But the victim had another investigative tool up her sleeve. She had previously told the officer that she had recorded an alert tone message in her phone that she could activate from home. The officer instructed her to do so. With his head near the open driver’s side window, the officer could hear, coming from beneath the driver’s seat, a voice: “This is “Lilly’s” (victim’s name changed to protect her identity) phone, put it down.”

The officer let the victim know her phone had been recovered.

The suspect said he had bought it an hour prior from an unknown person.

He was arrested. His two passengers were questioned, as several cell phones and cash were found inside the car.

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