This morning (thanks, Boy Genius) at 1:00 AM, a Pittsburgh man was walking down the street when three men accosted him, one brandishing a firearm. The muggers demanded his wallet, credit cards and, worst of all, his iPhone. The poor iPhone owner complied with their demands, handed over his possessions, and ran back home to call the cops.
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When he got the cops on the phone, the victim activated the 'Find My iPhone' feature, which showed his smartphone was over at the local Wal-Mart. The man gave this information to the police, who promptly caught and arrested the criminals. They recovered most of the man's belongings at the scene.
Stories like this showcase exactly why I love the digital age. The 'Find my iPhone' feature probably wasn't made with the intent of helping crime victims recover their lost goods and get sweet, sweet revenge, but it's worked out to be very good at doing just that. As consumer technology advances and features like this become ubiquitous in gadgets, criminals are going to have to get a whole lot more clever.
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It makes you wonder what other defence mechanisms they're going to develop for high-price, high-tech gadgets. Silent alarms, connected to a small 'panic button' could work very well in situations like this. Another good avenue to pursue would be finding ways to keep the GPS going even when the phone is turned off, to make it all the more difficult for people to steal without getting tracked down. If you can make something extremely difficult to nab without severe consequences, you can destroy all motivation for criminals to steal that item.