People Are Tracking Thieves Using “Find My IPhone” And Then Hunting Them Down With Hammers

Today in very bad ideas.

People Are Tracking Thieves Using “Find My IPhone” And Then Hunting Them Down With Hammers
[Image: Flickr user Morgan]

Find My iPhone, in many ways, made it fundamentally easier to track down your phone after you’ve misplaced it following a night of responsible drinking. Human dad-joke and Yahoo tech guy David Pogue even once used it to find his.


But now Find My iPhone is reportedly setting the table for dangerous confrontations between the newly phone-less and apparent thieves, at least according to a story in The New York Times. “Victims are often desperate to recover their stolen phones, which, as home to their texts, photos and friends’ phone numbers, can feel less like devices than like extensions of their hands,” reports the Times‘s Ian Lovett. “While iPhones may be the most popular with thieves, apps that can track stolen phones using GPS are now available for most smartphones.” Here’s the key bit, though, with emphasis:

And although pursuing a thief can occasionally end in triumph, it can also lead to violence, particularly because some people arm themselves–hammers are popular–while hunting for their stolen phones.

Think about that for a second. People are willing to go all Oldboy on strangers–who may or may not have actually taken the thing–for an Apple gadget. Unless you are prepared to deal with the consequences of splattering someone’s skull into a red mist, we would advise against this. Free lifehack, in fact: Do not bring a hammer with you when you’re chasing down your iPhone. Don’t chase down your iPhone, at all. Call the police instead; sometimes the police are even helpful!

The report speaks to anti-theft legislation calling for a “kill switch,” which would effectively render the expensive gadgets useless bricks remotely by wiping them clean and making them unusable. While phone-makers like Samsung and police departments across the country have been calling for such a feature for years–arguing that a kill switch would effectively nullify the secondary economy thieves need to resell goods–carriers like AT&T, Verizon, and others have been vehement in their opposition.

Why? They claim they would lose money. Most recently, an anti-theft bill proposed in California was killed in the state senate.

About the author

Chris is a staff writer at Fast Company, where he covers business and tech. He has also written for The Week, TIME, Men's Journal, The Atlantic, and more.