×

Announcing: Slashdot Deals - Explore geek apps, games, gadgets and more. (what is this?)

Thank you!

We are sorry to see you leave - Beta is different and we value the time you took to try it out. Before you decide to go, please take a look at some value-adds for Beta and learn more about it. Thank you for reading Slashdot, and for making the site better!

Death Wish Meets GPS: iPhone Theft Victims Confronting Perps

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the charles-bronson-not-involved dept.

Crime 664

theodp (442580) writes "Thankfully, no one's gone full-Charles-Bronson yet, but the NY Times reports that victims of smartphone theft are using GPS to take the law into their own hands, paying visits to thieves' homes and demanding the return of their stolen phones. "The emergence of this kind of do-it-yourself justice," writes Ian Lovett, "has stirred worries among law enforcement officials that people are putting themselves in danger, taking disproportionate risks for the sake of an easily replaced item." And while hitting "Find My iPhone" can take you to a thief's doorstep, LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith urges resisting the impulse to do so. "It's just a phone," he said. "it's not worth losing your life over. Let police officers take care of it. We have backup, guns, radio, jackets — all that stuff civilians don't have.""

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

frosty piss (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46912963)

Yes, police have all that stuff. On the other hand, they don't give a shit about your iphone being stolen, and will likely never investigate.

Re:frosty piss (5, Insightful)

tmosley (996283) | about 7 months ago | (#46913005)

Exactly. Hand them all the information of a silver platter and they do nothing.

Police are scum. From personal experience as a victim of more than one instance of theft.

They're doing what they're supposed to (5, Informative)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | about 7 months ago | (#46913183)

Unfortunately that sign on their car door "To serve and protect", they serve and protect the state. Getting back your iPhone does little to serve and protect the state.

Re:frosty piss (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46913207)

I think iPhones are treated like bicycles -- something that there just are not the resources for, even if the purported thief is nailed down to a location.

As a devil's advocate, US police are woefully underfunded. They might get a bunch of SWAT stuff from the government, but actual basic policing, substations, and other items needed to process all but murders and attempted murders are not funded. Most cities are far more interested in making sure the professional sport league has the latest and greatest stadium so they won't move to a city that would. So, blame the city councils that deny adequate funding to city services, not the people who have to decide between catching the perps from a drive-by shooting versus some guy who lost his cellphone.

Re: frosty piss (5, Insightful)

macinnisrr (1103805) | about 7 months ago | (#46913253)

That's a copout (no pun intended). If you give police the location of your phone, it's probably less than an hour's worth of work for two of them to track it down and get it back. As long as there are two cops on duty, it's simply lazy to not track it down. They don't seem to have any issues with setting speed traps and handing out seatbelt tickets.

Re:frosty piss (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46913027)

The primacy of the state is beyond reproach...

Please stop linking to Vice magazine.

Re:frosty piss (5, Interesting)

ganjadude (952775) | about 7 months ago | (#46913047)

I remember a time when I had a 2800$ laptop stolen a number of years ago id say around 2003. I knew who did it, I had proof of him bragging about it, and i brought this to the cops who promptly did jack shit about it. In the end I got my laptop back, and some...interest on top. the person who stole it from me? I cant be sure but I highly doubt he stole from anyone again

long story short, cops these days dont give a flying fuck about helping us with crime, all they care about is keeping the money rolling in

Let police officers take care of it. (3, Interesting)

frovingslosh (582462) | about 7 months ago | (#46913121)

Dead on. The police could do their jobs and get the phone and even take a crook of the streets at the same time. Instead if a location of a stolen phone is reported they just brush it off and tell you that your $500+ item is "easily replaceable" and that you should forget about all of the personal stuff on it. They can't be bothered. I wonder why people respect police less and less every day. I'm surprised that they don't point out that while the police have guns and all that other stuff, and the bad guys likely have guns, in many states the victims don't have guns because the laws prevent it. And prevent you from even having bullet proof vests too!

Re: Let police officers take care of it. (2)

Zumbs (1241138) | about 7 months ago | (#46913155)

What about the other part of the police officers statement? Do you really want to risk your life over an inanimate object?

Re: Let police officers take care of it. (4, Insightful)

ganjadude (952775) | about 7 months ago | (#46913191)

that depends on the data that is on the phone and how big a risk it is, If i track my phone with GPS to a local high school, yeah ill go to the school and have the principal confront him

If its at a place of business, Ill trace it there and have a nice chat with a boss about his employee being a thief

If i see its in the middle of compton in a known gang area, i probably will not go there to get it

Re: Let police officers take care of it. (1)

Kremmy (793693) | about 7 months ago | (#46913221)

These days losing your phone can be hell. Sure, flip phones were cheap and easily replaceable, but smartphones are personal information management devices that many people honestly rely on in their daily lives at this point. Police officers refuse to deal with the situation because their job is .. what IS their job? The hell are they excusing crime for? Goddammit.

Re: Let police officers take care of it. (1)

smash (1351) | about 7 months ago | (#46913251)

If you don't have a backup of the information on your phone, you're an idiot who doesn't care about his/her data.

Re: Let police officers take care of it. (0)

frovingslosh (582462) | about 7 months ago | (#46913295)

When the police refuse to do their job, my life is already at risk. I would much rather deal with the problem at a time of my choosing when I was at least somewhat prepared for it than wait until I had something else the thug wanted and have him take it again when he was prepared and I was not. You might as well be arguing that we should just give all of what we earn and own to these urban terrorists so that they don't hurt us when they take it.

Re: Let police officers take care of it. (1)

jcr (53032) | about 7 months ago | (#46913189)

The police could do their jobs and get the phone and even take a crook of the streets at the same time.

They could do that, sure, but they haven't been law enforcement officers in decades. What they do now is tax collection and obedience enforcement.

-jcr

Re:frosty piss (3, Insightful)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about 7 months ago | (#46913133)

On the other other hand...

So you've got a thing that says your iPhone is at a particular location.

What is that thing? Can its data be trusted? Does it truly show your iPhone, or somebody else's, or something else entirely? Is that actually the address, or is it the other address right next door? Be thankful if it's not an apartment building, 'cos then floors get involved - good luck getting a warrant for all of them. Oh, didn't mention warrants yet, did I? Yeah, that's right, even if your 'find my iphone' is just pointing to a location in the middle of nowhere and there's only one person there, cops can't just demand that they empty out all their pockets; I'm sure most people here would tell the cop to either please vacate themselves or take you in if they feel they have enough cause to do so, when the lead is that "somebody's computer says". And all that at the lowly sum of $ka-ching/hour.

On the other other other hand, you file the report, you file the insurance claim, you walk into an Apple Store, get a new device (those scratches and dents you put into it the other one? gone! it's magic!), get most of your data back off the cloud, and be off and running. You 'win', the thief wins, the cops win, the insurance company wins, and Apple wins.

Somebody amend wit more hands...

Note that I'm not saying that cops couldn't do more, and shouldn't do more - hell, if it was as easy for them as it is for the general public to just walk up to someplace and go "you've got this person's iPhone, you best be handing it back now or there'll be trouble", I'd say they should follow up on every stolen phone, tablet, bicycle, etc. Unfortunately it's not - which also leads me to agreeing that it's fine if they warn people about potential consequences, but they can't exactly complain that people are taking matters into their own hands.

Re:frosty piss (3, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 7 months ago | (#46913139)

Yes, police have all that stuff. On the other hand, they don't give a shit about your iphone being stolen, and will likely never investigate.

Exactly. This problem is caused by the complete lack of action by police if the problem isn't drug related. The department knows how they get funds and that's by busting drug offenders. They get to keep a percentage of the spoils as well as bonuses per arrest. Drug arrests are very very easy. Busting a guy that stole a phone could take hours. Can't have that.

Re:frosty piss (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46913149)

A friend's iPhone was stolen - Find My iPhone located it... we called the police and they promptly visited the home and had the phone returned to its rightful owner. This was in San Fernando Valley, so perhaps the police are friendlier to such victims than in your area?

Re:frosty piss (1)

Seng (697556) | about 7 months ago | (#46913195)

No lie... My ex-father-in-law fell prey to one of those "you won the lottery" BS scams, and cashed out about $13k of credit cards before he wised up. Local cops & the FBI wouldn't do a damn thing. "We have things like murders and real crime to track down, so this isn't a high priority."

A phone is going to get a report written, and forgotten about.

Americans don't have guns? Or jackets? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46912969)

Americans don't have guns? Or jackets? Really?

Re: Americans don't have guns? Or jackets? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46913003)

I dont have radios.

Re: Americans don't have guns? Or jackets? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46913007)

Well it's New York, so the gun part is fairly accurate...

Re: Americans don't have guns? Or jackets? (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about 7 months ago | (#46913071)

law abiding citizens in NYC dont have guns, there are a shit ton of guns in NYC however

Re: Americans don't have guns? Or jackets? (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about 7 months ago | (#46913131)

law abiding citizens in NYC dont have guns, there are a shit ton of guns in NYC however

Granted Wikipedia is not authoritative, but it looks to me like law abiding NYC citizens may own handguns or long guns [wikipedia.org] .

Re: Americans don't have guns? Or jackets? (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about 7 months ago | (#46913145)

thats true, I was speaking of handguns which are generally used in crimes more than long guns. I should have been more clear

Re: Americans don't have guns? Or jackets? (1)

Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) | about 7 months ago | (#46913237)

You're joking, right? Just try to get a pistol permit in NYC. While technically, it's possible, it is neither cheap nor easy. Long guns are only slightly easier (permit still required). Meanwhile, anyone who is cheeky enough to steal and then use your phone is probably not going to be disinclined to buy any of the easily available illegal firearms that can be purchased from a local street thug for a song.

Police often wont take care of it... (1)

Kenja (541830) | about 7 months ago | (#46912973)

because as he said, it's just a phone. Not that confronting the perpetrator is a great idea, but don't expect the full CSI treatment when you report the theft.

Re:Police often wont take care of it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46913017)

This.

By the time they do "take care of it", the phone is scrubbed, the phone is gone and sold.
They'll likely just put your name on a list of people to call back in a few weeks with "it's gone, no proof, blahblah etc."

Re:Police often wont take care of it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46913107)

Thankfully, since iOS 7, scrubbing the phone has become impossible.

Tolerance is acceptance (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46913025)

The police have said that it's completely acceptable, as they do nothing to stop it even when they have the exact, real-time location of the thief. Should we reinforce that by preventing citizens from cowering to law enforcement's threat of violence?

Re:Police often wont take care of it... (5, Funny)

bitt3n (941736) | about 7 months ago | (#46913069)

Not that confronting the perpetrator is a great idea, but don't expect the full CSI treatment when you report the theft.

Actually, confronting the perp is the best way to get the full CSI treatment. If you're lucky, they might even pull up your dental records to conclusively ID your remains.

Re:Police often wont take care of it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46913199)

lol. That only happens when a rich person gets murdered.

Re:Police often wont take care of it... (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about 7 months ago | (#46913099)

a phone is valued at over 600 for most smartphones these days. its not "just a phone" Thats grand larceny in a number of places, a felony

Escalation (3, Insightful)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about 7 months ago | (#46913233)

Police often wont take care of it...because as he said, it's just a phone.

Today it's a phone, tomorrow it's a laptop and by next week it's an armed robbery of an electronics store. I can understand that the police do not have the resources to track down every petty criminal but when confronted with clear evidence where the criminal is they have a duty to act. It is not only a fantastic public relations opportunity ("I went to the police and they caught the criminal one hour later") it also looks good for the crime statistics and it helps to reduce future crime since many phone thefts are probably opportunistic criminals who, if not caught, will carry on with their experiment to see how many phones/laptops/etc. they can steal before it crosses the police action threshold.

What the police have (5, Insightful)

Webs 101 (798265) | about 7 months ago | (#46912977)

"We have backup, guns, radio, jackets — all that stuff civilians don't have."

They forgot to list apathy.

Re:What the police have (1)

governorx (524152) | about 7 months ago | (#46913067)

My favourite part: "Just a phone.." That can cost nearly a thousand bucks to replace. This should be worth the 5-10 minutes of time for the police to salvage with known GPS coordinates. The problem here is that law abiding citizens get victimized twice: First by the thief. Then by law enforcement that doesn't take the steps protect the property of those same citizens.

But, it is just a phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46913125)

Bottom line here is that it might cost a thousand to replace, but even the higher end ones are usually under $600 new and even at $1k you'd have to be a damned fool to risk your life over that. You can get a new phone, but there's no coming back if you're shot dead.

And if you want to gripe about the cops not being willing to do anything about it, that's a man power issue. And ultimately man power issues are tax issues, where do you think those tax cuts come from? The government has cut most of the easy to cut things and cheap bastards like the cock brothers keep pushing for more and more tax cuts. Around here the Sheriff's department is woefully underfunded because one of the local teanarchists keeps getting the voters to approve super majority requirements on tax hikes, by arguing that they're always asking for more money because they can't manage their money. Well, the reason they keep asking for more money is that the jackass has taken most of the tax revenues away to benefit the rich.

Re:But, it is just a phone (3, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | about 7 months ago | (#46913179)

And if you want to gripe about the cops not being willing to do anything about it, that's a man power issue.

Maybe they can catch real thieves instead of spending their time trying to stop people from doing U-turns on 25th street. Which hasn't caused an accident in a decade at least. It's just an easy way to collect money (since the no u-turn signs are partially obscured by trees).

Another thing: police defend their ability to 'stop and frisk' as a way to stop crime. NY is serious about stopping small crimes because it theoretically reduces big crimes. Well, here is something easy they can do.

If the police aren't going to catch criminals, there's not much reason to have them.

Re:But, it is just a phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46913261)

NY is serious about stopping small crimes because it theoretically reduces big crimes.

That's just an excuse. The NYC police can't combat the big crimes directly, because they all occur on Wall St.

Re:But, it is just a phone (4, Insightful)

Culture20 (968837) | about 7 months ago | (#46913187)

And if you want to gripe about the cops not being willing to do anything about it, that's a manpower issue

Not when the cops are unwilling to follow up on easy leads while they are instead literally sitting in their cars all day long waiting for speeders because speeding tickets earn their department revenue (and catching muggers doesn't). There's plenty of manpower. The cops just don't want to risk their lives for "just a phone" because they know these are potentially violent criminals that are taking the phones. It's cowardice and avarice, not lack of manpower.

Re:What the police have (2)

spd_rcr (537511) | about 7 months ago | (#46913219)

More than the cost of the phone, is the personal identity smart-phones carry. That could include credit card info, id's, passwords and logins, personal photos, and the list goes on...

Property thefts just don't matter to police, unless you're Apple and lose a prototype at the bar, in which case they'll send a SWAT team to storm the perp's home.

Re:What the police have (1)

smash (1351) | about 7 months ago | (#46913267)

So password protect your phone and if you are using "find my iphone" you have the ability to do remote wipe. If you haven't backed the info up on a regular basis you are an idiot who doesn't give a fuck about their data, because it could just as easily have been lost if you were to damage the phone accidentally.

Re:What the police have (5, Informative)

Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) | about 7 months ago | (#46913275)

A few years ago, I had a car stolen right out of my gated/locked driveway in NJ (cue the Jersey jokes). It wasn't an expensive car, but still worth about US$10k. When I reported it stolen and informed the police where they could ask for surveillance video that would likely show the crime and culprit, they treated me like a nuisance and never investigated the crime. I know they never investigated because the owner of the surveillance cam was never even contacted, even when I followed up with the cops a couple of times. The insurance company just paid out immediately and the adjuster said the odds of ever seeing the car again when stolen from northern NJ was almost zero.

So I can only chuckle when I'm told that the cops will show even a cursory interest in helping someone recover a phone, even if the EXACT location is known.

Re:What the police have (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46913075)

Just tell them there's a dog there they can shoot. That'll get them moving.

Re:What the police have (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46913117)

I have have guns, and Backup and a radio and my "Jacket" is rated higher than most PD's are.

Then do something about it (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46912989)

The reason people are taking this action is because law enforcement deprioritizes this kind of theft. Even thought you know exactly where the criminal is, law enforcement simply won't do anything because it's such a petty crime. Besides, they are busy busting actual criminals like drug addicts and speeders. However, the victims don't see it as a petty crime and since law enforcement won't do their jobs they do the job themselves. LAPD Cmdr. Smith, you say "Let police officers take care of it." I say, "Fine then, do your job since it's half done for you."

You mean "let the police blow it off" (5, Insightful)

ChrisKnight (16039) | about 7 months ago | (#46912995)

A friend of mine was recently mugged, on the doorstep of her home. While the police were in her house asking questions she pulled up the current location of her phone on her laptop. The police did not care. Did. Not. Care. For an hour her phone drifted around a park that was a known after-hours teenager hangout, while the officer asked inane questions. She fumed for weeks. Getting mugged was bad enough, but feeling like the police didn't really care, that all they wanted to do was get the report filled out, made her feel truly helpless.

If the police are unwilling to react to these thefts because they are low priority for them, they have to expect that citizens will have to take it into their own hands. People don't like someone else telling them their problems are trivial. People don't like feeling helpless. They need to believe that there is always something they can do.

Re: Low Priority? (1)

Mr. Sketch (111112) | about 7 months ago | (#46913123)

> because they are low priority for them

If they are such a low priority for them, why bother taking the statements and filing the report?

Re: Low Priority? (1)

JackDW (904211) | about 7 months ago | (#46913161)

They can't deprioritize the job until you have given your statement.

Re: Low Priority? (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 7 months ago | (#46913201)

If they are such a low priority for them, why bother taking the statements and filing the report?

Welcome to the wonders of bureaucracy. Suggest reading Kafka to learn more.

Aside: Hey, I finally remembered how to spell bureaucracy without spell check correcting me! Only took years....

Re:You mean "let the police blow it off" (2)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 7 months ago | (#46913143)

In a 'normal' country you first would politely point out to the police men that you will sue them, and if they they don't react on that you actually do sue them. My dictionary tells me that is called 'failure to act', not sure if it is the right term.
Police officers don't like to have a 'failure to act' accusion in their personal records/files. (Well, I have personally very good experiences with the police, the few times I needed them they reacted promptly and extremly professional)

Re: You mean "let the police blow it off" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46913265)

There's always the option of her telling them to leave so she can handle this herself. I was in a situation years ago where a family friend disappeared for about two weeks. She was on really bad drugs and the police were powerless to do much since she was 22.

I went with a few friends to get her and was pulled over for going the wrong way on a one way. I didn't know the area. After the third squad car arrived, I asked that they hurry up with their paperwork so I could take care of the situation. I explained what I was about to do. The tone of the situation changed dramatically. I didn't realize it at the time, but once the police become aware of a possible obedience situation they can be liable for not acting. I followed the squad cars to the apartment where we were met with four other police cars who had the building covered in spotlights. On a Monday morning at 2AM, I was able to get my friend out of the complex and back home so they could go to treatment. I guess I was lucky they didn't detain me, but when the expectation is there to be docile, the police won't act.

Stupid Comment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46912997)

Let police officers take care of it. We have backup, guns, radio, jackets — all that stuff civilians don't have.""

What makes you think us lowly citizens do not have what you have and more.

Re:Stupid Comment (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 7 months ago | (#46913245)

That is because most actually dont have those.

If the police would go this wouldn't happen (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 7 months ago | (#46912999)

Perhaps the victims didn't try the police first. But my experience with the police and small property thefts is that they don't feel it is worth their time.

When My vehicle was broken into a few years ago- fingerprints visible all over the window that had been pried open - they didn't even bother to take fingerprints. Clearly minor crimes are not on their priority list.

What should happen is you tell the police you have this program; show them some proof you own the phone; and they go retrieve the phone with the attitude that it is *probably* your phone but not definitely your phone until they hear the side of the people with the phone or see how those people react.

We also need to update our felony amounts. Stealing a phone really only warrants jail time- not prison time. The felony amounts are set too low and make a lot of crimes felonies that would not have been 50 years ago.

Re:If the police would go this wouldn't happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46913151)

couln't agree more. same thing happen to me and my truck, they wouldn't even send someone out. only reason anything got done was because I had a friend on the PD who came out and did a REAL report with finger prints as a favor. less than a year later the guy got caught and the prosecutor got to add an extra year or so to his sentence. ALll of which wouldn't have happened if a friend hadn't helped me out.. Cops only care about revenue streams.

Civilians (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46913001)

it's not worth losing police life over. Let police officers pretend to take care of it. We have backup, guns, radio, jackets -- all that stuff civilians don't have. Like how civilians have an innate feeling of honesty and justice that cops don't have.

Fixed the for you. Also, COPS ARE CIVILIANS!! Stop pretending you're military.

police cannot do anything (1, Informative)

uslurper (459546) | about 7 months ago | (#46913009)

Police cannot do anything.
They need a warrant to enter a home and they cannot get one.

probable cause (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46913091)

The stolen phone reporting its location in said home should be probable cause.

Re:police cannot do anything (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 7 months ago | (#46913213)

They don't need a warrant to show up on someone's doorstep and knock, and talk to the people inside.

Uhm... iPhones aren't that valuable! (1)

The New Guy 2.0 (3497907) | about 7 months ago | (#46913011)

Didn't anybody forget that all subscription service devices need their subscription fee paid in order for the thing to work? iPhone's "teardown parts price" is not that high... what they're really making money on is the subsidy from the carriers, and the service agreements. Stolen iPhone will 1. Not work for the thieves, and 2. Work against them.

Except in the US (3, Interesting)

Diddlbiker (1022703) | about 7 months ago | (#46913083)

In the rest of the world a stolen smartphone will get bricked, but carriers are working against that in the US. I guess because stolen phones mean people will have to buy replacements and they'll get the kickbacks from Apple and Samsung for that. As long as stolen phones keep working in the US, they'll continue to be stolen.

Bzzt! Wrong! (3, Informative)

Powercntrl (458442) | about 7 months ago | (#46913291)

In the rest of the world a stolen smartphone will get bricked, but carriers are working against that in the US.

The USA has had a stolen phone blacklist for quite some time now. You can check if a phone is blacklisted here [checkesnfree.com] . Carriers will also ban a phone from their own network if the owner defaults on their service contract or handset finance agreement.

Phones are still stolen because:

1. Some phones can have their IMEI altered (illegal, but we're talking about criminals in the first place).
2. They can be sold overseas.
3. They can be sold to fools right here in the USA who don't know there's an IMEI blacklist and that they're buying a useless "brick".
4. They have value as parts.
5. Not everything criminal steals needs a logical reason. Some of these low-lives are so trashed on drugs they aren't thinking much beyond "take everything I can grab, sell, buy more drugs."

Re:Uhm... iPhones aren't that valuable! (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 7 months ago | (#46913159)

Phones are like zip guns. they only have to work once.

Uh we'll... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46913015)

When you take your find my phone data to the cops and give them the GPS coordinates of the perp and/or phone the cops usually say "meh, so what." So often they are amazingly lazy when the hardest part is handed to them. Maybe someone would get more help if there was a donut shop on the way. They don't understand that not everyone has the cash to just buy a new phone.

Fortunately not all cops are such crooks but the good ones are out busting real criminals.

Re:Uh we'll... (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 7 months ago | (#46913169)

...the good ones are out busting real criminals.

No they aren't. They're writing parking tickets and directing traffic.

Let police officers take care of it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46913019)

Then pray tell, how do you suggest we make police officers take care of it? That's kind of the problem here, isn't it? People are taking the law into their own hands because the police isn't doing it.

Re:Let police officers take care of it? (3, Funny)

PPH (736903) | about 7 months ago | (#46913029)

Donuts. Tell them the perps stole your donuts.

Vigilantism comes from apathy (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 months ago | (#46913021)

From apathy on the side of the police, that is.

If the police at least tried to get my possessions back, would I bother going myself? Hell no. As the article said, why risk it? That's the police's job, they not only have the training and equipment, they also have the backing of the law.

Vigilantes only emerge when the police drops the ball. Only when there is no other way to get justice, people will take justice into their own hands. That's why a state has to be careful to keep its laws and its law enforcement in sync with what their population considers just. People will only take the law into their own hands if you, as a government, fail.

Re:Vigilantism comes from apathy (0)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 7 months ago | (#46913087)

Its NOT vigilantism to confront someone who stole from you. As citizens we are empowered to confront and act. I dont need the governemnt to always come between citizen interaction. Its not a failure of the State for citizens to confront other citizens.

Re:Vigilantism comes from apathy (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 months ago | (#46913227)

Personally, I'd say it is. It is the job of the police to ensure laws are being enforced. And I expect them to do their job, because I pay them to. Only if they fail to, I will start doing it myself.

two problems... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46913023)

The cops sometimes can't be bothered to deal with what they perceive to be a petty, very low priority, crime, on the level with shoplifting, pickpocketting and purse snatching.

While the smartphone itself may be trivial to replace, all the information on one may not be, and there is the whole deal of some apps that let you save your password...

Re:two problems... (4, Interesting)

ganjadude (952775) | about 7 months ago | (#46913135)

you know I see a market here. Phone bounty hunters.

Re:two problems... (2)

hawguy (1600213) | about 7 months ago | (#46913137)

While the smartphone itself may be trivial to replace, all the information on one may not be, and there is the whole deal of some apps that let you save your password...

Unless you were targeted for some specific espionage (you weren't), the phone thief doesn't care about the data on your phone. If they can unlock it, they might take a quick look through your pictures for naked pics of your wife, but they aren't going to use a compute cluster to try to brute force your passcode -- they are just going to wipe it and resell it.

If you have data on your phone that you can't replace, you were bound to lose it eventually anyway - phones die for lots of reasons unrelated to theft. Make regular backups (local or cloud based).

Yeah Right (1)

Herkum01 (592704) | about 7 months ago | (#46913035)

We have backup, guns, radio, jackets — all that stuff civilians don't have.

Except the will to actually use it. Recovering I-Phones don't get great media coverage or the adrenaline high that a drug-bust (or maybe an eviction notice).

Lets call it like it is, people don't trust police to take of these problems. After working with police officers a few times, too many of them are jerks. Not all of them, but enough.

Okay, Fine (2)

Oysterville (2944937) | about 7 months ago | (#46913039)

We all know that the police generally don't put a high priority on retrieving lost smart phones. So, if someone ever absconds with my smart phone and I use the app that I have on it to track it down, I will simply call the local sheriff's office and tell them that I have located my phone, give them the address, and tell them that in 10 minutes I will be going in locked and loaded to retrieve it. That should give them sufficient time to prevent a more serious crime from taking place.

Re:Okay, Fine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46913095)

Don't threaten the state's monopoly on violence, citizen. That merits the ultimate sanction.

Re:Okay, Fine (1)

neilo_1701D (2765337) | about 7 months ago | (#46913241)

I will simply call the local sheriff's office and tell them that I have located my phone, give them the address, and tell them that in 10 minutes I will be going in locked and loaded to retrieve it. That should give them sufficient time to prevent a more serious crime from taking place.

Let me think: The cops are going to a) scurry over to the thief to recover a phone; or b) send a SWAT team to kick down your door because they received a credible threat of violence against another person - from you.

Which scenario do you think gets played out here?

Re:Okay, Fine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46913271)

Woosh.

In 10 minutes, where will he be? Kicking down his door won't help.

Civilians Not? (1)

trydk (930014) | about 7 months ago | (#46913043)

Lessee:

Google drive ... Backup, Check
Wiki Weapon + 3D Printer ... Guns, Check
Pure Evoke ... Radio, Check
Superdry ... Jacket, Check

What police officers lack ... (2)

khchung (462899) | about 7 months ago | (#46913059)

Let police officers take care of it. We have backup, guns, radio, jackets — all that stuff civilians don't have.

But obviously civilians have one thing the police officers don't - the WILL to take action.

If the police have been taking these thefts seriously and had sent officers to thief's home instead, then no one would be foolish enough to do it himself.

Yes, it is foolish to confront the thief at his home. What do you think would happen? "Ha ha, you got me, here's your phone."? More likely is the thief would know giving you the phone just proved he stolen your stuff, and now you know where to lead the police to him, thief would be thinking how is he going to silence you?

Maybe after the first few fools got killed, the police will finally take a visit to the locations of stolen phones?

Citizens are empowered (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 7 months ago | (#46913065)

I am SO SICK of the police telling citizens they shouldn't conduct their business. Yes it can be unwise, but the constant drumbeat of 'leave it to the cops' pisses me off.

Re:Citizens are empowered (2)

hawguy (1600213) | about 7 months ago | (#46913173)

I am SO SICK of the police telling citizens they shouldn't conduct their business. Yes it can be unwise, but the constant drumbeat of 'leave it to the cops' pisses me off.

This is one case where it makes sense -- cops not only have physical protection (guns, etc), but they also have legal protection - if your phone tells you that your stolen phone is at 101 Main Street and you go to that address, bang on the door and start threatening the guy that answers to give up the phone before you kick his ass, you may find yourself in jail over the threats when it turns out that the phone was really in the basement apartment at 101A Main St (assuming, of course, that the guy you're demanding the phone from doesn't just kick *your* ass, and when he tells the cops that he felt threatened, he'll get the benefit of the doubt since you were at his house). The cops don't have to make any threats when they knock on the door -- the threat is implied.

Re:Citizens are empowered (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 7 months ago | (#46913217)

Yes, but these things are important if you want to maintain a submissive population. They always tell you not to resist, just lie down and enjoy it. This is the dependency the authorities want to create. Obey, and all your needs will be met, and you can keep your cable if you want to.

Re:Citizens are empowered (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46913239)

Welcome to Democrat utopia. Convince the citizen that the STATE should take care of everything. Then whittle down the will of the people to expect anything from the STATE. As a certain point, the people's convictions and expectations are nil, and the STATE has complete control or everything.

Oh yeah, if you protest this path, you get called a racist or anti-American - Even though prior to Obama, it was the height of BEING an American to protest one's government. Funny how there are two sets of rules, depending upon who is in the White House.

the function of society (1)

steak (145650) | about 7 months ago | (#46913089)

of course the cops are saying don't do anything. if people realized that they are capable of taking care of themselves the "proper authorities" will have a harder time forcing people to buy a product they may or may not need, or take their weapons, or surveil their every move.

Funny... (2)

MasseKid (1294554) | about 7 months ago | (#46913111)

They say let the cops handle it, yet the cops WON'T go arrest these guys even if you give them the same GPS info. This happens out of frustration from the uselessness of the police to act in these scenarios, not because they think it's the best course of action.

Call your friend from the IRA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46913115)

Don't do it yourself, call your friend from the IRA to get your phone back. Leave it to the experts...

Easy solution (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 7 months ago | (#46913127)

"The emergence of this kind of do-it-yourself justice," writes Ian Lovett, "has stirred worries among law enforcement officials that people are putting themselves in danger, taking disproportionate risks for the sake of an easily replaced item."

If the police care, they can go get the phones themselves. People only take it into their own hands when the police ignore them.

The LAPD, folks. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46913129)

"If anyone should shoot a thief dead over your iPhone it should be us. We're armed to the fucking teeth, thus we are better qualified."

When exactly did we decide to turn our local police departments into paramilitary units? And at what point did they become so proud of that fact that they brag about their kills and their weapons?

We're fighting for freedom all over the world, except the one place we actually need it now...AT HOME.

prevent the small crimes......... (1)

jafffacake (1966342) | about 7 months ago | (#46913153)

Rapid justice, and punishment, for small crimes help prevent the perp moving onto bigger stuff next time. So a minor mugging that's satisfactorily solved could possibly stop the mugger committing further, more serious, offences

But the police won't do it (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 7 months ago | (#46913157)

I think the reason people are pursuing stolen phones on their own is that the police is going to do absolutely zero about the situation after filling out the incident report, unless the phone happens to show up in some huge haul of stolen goods. The police are not going to raid a house to recover your stolen iphone. It's just not that important to them. (But important enough, apparently, that some law enforcement are lobbying for a manufacturer's kill switch but that's a different discussion.)

If you need an incident number for your insurance, the police will provide that. If you need them to go to that jerk's house and get your phone back, they are not going to do that. It really is that simple.

If you wanted to have some fun... (3, Informative)

roc97007 (608802) | about 7 months ago | (#46913163)

... you could do what this guy did [evanwashere.com] .

Police are government (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46913165)

The government sucks at taking care of ANYTHING. I'm a 20 year vet. I don't need or want the governments help in dealing with a stolen phone. If I decide to let it go--lucky criminal.
If I decide to gear up, kick his door in, feed him his teeth, and get my property I will.

LAPD apathy (4, Informative)

prehistoricman5 (1539099) | about 7 months ago | (#46913185)

My sister's friend had her phone stolen recently and when she called the LAPD about it, they also refused to do anything about it and pretty much told her that it was not their policy to go chasing after stolen phones. She later attempted to confront the fence that stole her phone and ultimately was unsuccessful in recovering her phone.

people steal cell phones? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46913223)

Yesterday, I just walked into a T-Mobile store and buy one with my debit card. I must be missing something.

"We don't go into the barrio for an iPhone " (3, Interesting)

BoRegardless (721219) | about 7 months ago | (#46913229)

"and risk the life of an officer." That was the answer from the San Diego police department when my friend's sone lost his iPhone in a major hotel out of the dining room.

My friend is an attorney involved in major San Diego port affairs. Made no diff. "We don't go into that barrio without a SWAT team."

It's never "just a phone" (1)

91degrees (207121) | about 7 months ago | (#46913231)

A phone isn't just a cool toy any more. We're pretty dependent on them. It's our way of communicating with people; it contains a lot of data. We spend a lot of time tinkering with it and configuring it to make it just so.

Even if you have backed it up, it's still a; lot of work getting the data back onto the phone. And you'll probably lose something.

Plus it takes time to replace. We are without an essential tool that we assume we'll have, and are no longer able to function well until it's replaced.

thieves' homes (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 7 months ago | (#46913235)

Or the poor unsuspecting guy that bought it off craigslist..

backup, guns, radio, jackets (1)

stevegee58 (1179505) | about 7 months ago | (#46913255)

"We have backup, guns, radio, jackets — all that stuff civilians don't have." What? I have all that stuff.

Then... (4, Interesting)

mbone (558574) | about 7 months ago | (#46913293)

"It's just a phone," he said. "it's not worth losing your life over.

Then why do they have guys with guns guarding banks and jewelry stores?

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?