Travels and Redemption of a Stolen iPhone

My wife lost her iPhone last Saturday night. When we realized this Sunday morning, I first tried using Apple’s MobileMe service, but the locator service was disabled. I then signed up for AT&T’s FamilyMap service, which is designed to help track your kids, but is also a last best hope should you loose your phone. FamilyMap pinpointed the location of the phone to a restaurant in Harlem where we ate dinner the night before. I called the restaurant and was told that the phone was nowhere to be found. I would have to wait for the manager to find out if it was put away the night before. When I tried to locate the phone again, FamilyMap indicated that the phone was not available.

The connection between my phone call and the phone dropping off the radar made me very suspicious, so I walked over to the restaurant, which is only a few blocks away, to see what was up. I found two people cleaning the restaurant and their supervisor, who I had talked to on the phone. He and I looked everywhere and then I just decide to give up and wait for the manager. The most likely scenario seemed to be that someone found the phone while cleaning up and then turned it off when I called the restaurant. When the manager arrived she assured me that nothing was found and they would continue to question the staff and look throughout the day. There was really nothing I could do so I left and continued to try and track the phone throughout the day.

Later in the day I called and reached the restaurant owner, who said they had been looking throughout the day but could not find anything. They had gone over the whole restaurant and questioned all the employees. They even went through the linens from the night before to see if it got caught in those. I thought this was really going above and beyond, but as it turned out this was just the start. Soon after hanging up with the owner I got another signal from an address in Queens, so my wife called back and asked if anyone on the staff lived at the address. It turned out that one of the employees who cleaned up that morning lived at the exact address. Busted!

The owner called the employee and told him to come back with the phone or she would call the police. He showed up at the restaurant an hour later, but he completely denied taking the phone. The restaurant owner asked us to come over to show him the evidence we had, so we bundled our young daughter up and headed over to the restaurant hoping to quickly resolve the issue. No such luck. I showed everyone including the thief the detailed maps with the location of the phone at 10:30AM and the location of the phone at 6:30PM. Still the thief denied taking the phone or any knowledge of how the phone managed to get from the restaurant to his apartment. We told him we would call the police if he didn’t give us the phone but he persisted in denying it.

Now this was just getting stupid, but also interesting. We caught him red handed, he might be arrested if he does not give us the phone, but he continues to deny it. The logic perplexed me, however, a smart thief would not have turned the phone back on after getting home from work, so I was thankful for his stupidity. At this point we had no choice. We called the police and I went home to put our daughter to bed while my wife waited for the police with the owner and restaurant managers. It seemed that everyone had become fascinated with the turn of events.

While waiting for the police, my wife tried to locate the phone and found that it was now a few blocks away from the restaurant and it kept moving up and down the block. After putting my daughter to bed, I logged in to see this interesting activity. We guessed that the thief had left the phone with a friend, who was getting impatient and pacing the block.

At this point the police arrived and he continued to deny any knowledge about what was going on despite the evidence and the indication that the phone was just around the corner. However, after more questioning and the arrival of additional officers he finally said that he might have “dropped” the phone we were seeing it on the map. The police, my wife, the restaurant owner, and the thief all piled into squad cars to go find the phone. But, the adventure was not over yet!

The thief still, “did not know where it fell,” so the police began combing the entire area. They looked through everything on the street corner. It was really impressive how helpful they were! While everyone else was looking for the phone, the thief just stood there smirking. It became clear that he knew exactly where the phone was. At this point the owner of the restaurant told thief that she was giving his remaining wages to my wife unless he told us where the phone was. All of a sudden he seemed to remember that the phone was tucked under a parking lot fence in a CVS bag. Mystery solved!

We are sending flowers to the restaurant today. We are not sure how to reach the police officers, but they truly showed themselves to be New York’s finest. We will be sending them something soon. We are so happy to have all our pictures, videos, and memories back. Thank you all!