By Netra Bahadur Swar
In the wee hours of Saturday, 23 September, at around 4am, a thief broke into our house at Tallo-Height, Duwakot in Bhaktapur district.
Possibly aided by an accomplice, the burglar somehow climbed up the wall and got into the first floor balcony. Then, opening the window that easily slides, he was able to enter the room and get hold of my iPhone 14 Pro Max, a Redmi phone, and Rs100,000 cash.
Deep into our sleep, we were clueless as the thief quietly climbed down and made off with our valuable possessions. It was only after I got up at 5:30am that I was able to see several scattered items, including some cash, in the room and on the balcony.
It took a while for me to fathom what had happened. And the realisation that a thief had just broken into and made off with my valuable phones and a big stash of cash was enough to send a chill down my spine.
My heart pounding, I quickly briefed my wife about what had just happened.
My neighbours suggested that I should report the incident to the police without further delay.
Less than an hour later, police officers came to inspect the house and the crime scene. Then, a family member suggested activating the Find My app on my Apple iPad so that I could begin tracking my iPhone’s accurate location no matter where it was being taken.
(I’d purchased the Apple devices spending a fortune, exactly a year ago during my US visit.)
I did that in no time. And what followed was a thrilling chase guided by the Find My Phone app:
At 5am the app showed the iPhone at the Manohara area east of the airport.
Then the iPhone was turned off.
Yet the police chase continued soon after we lodged an official complaint about the theft at Thimi Police Station.
Two police personnel led the chase while we followed locations fed by the Find My phone app, which was on in the iPad with nonstop Wi-Fi access - made possible by a personal hotspot connectivity offered by one of the police officers.
First off: The chase took the policemen to Manohara area, but the phone’s location changed. For a couple of hours it kept changing from Manohara to different locations in Kathmandu and Bhaktapur.
What was interesting was that every location pointed to areas with mobile phone stores nearby. At every location, the undercover police personnel inquired if the store was selling an iPhone 14 Pro Max. But the responses were mostly negative.
Then, another location bobbed on the screen: Gundu in southern Bhaktapur. The iPhone remained there for an hour or so.
Guessing that the thief might be taking a rest in Gundu, the police investigators reached the location, but to no avail. The phone’s location changed again.
Around 2pm, as the investigators took a break to further study the movements, my brother-in-law, Abhishek, noticed something noteworthy – the iPhone returned to the Manohara area again.
The police alerted all Circles around Bhaktapur. More undercover police personnel joined after which officers stopped and inspected all suspicious individuals on the streets.
On a closer look, the Find My app now pointed to Hara-Hara-Mahadev area, opposite the Lomus Building. There, several locals were questioned, and every phone store or shop was searched.
Eventually, they suspected the phone might be in a phone and electronics repair shop. But there was a problem – The shop was closed. Locals reported that the store rarely opened, even on weekdays, which added to the suspicion.
Upon investigation, the investigators finally found that the repair shop owner was carrying the stolen iPhone. Around 6pm, fearing potential trouble, the shop owner voluntarily showed up at the police station and admitted having possessed the stolen mobile phone.
After 10 hours of intense search, the phone was finally recovered.
“I bought it from an unknown person who sold it to me and left,” he told the police, denying his involvement in the theft. He also denied having any knowledge about the other phone and the cash. Yet police investigation continues to locate the “unknown seller”, the other phone and the cash.
I’m afraid the store shop owner must be the culprit. The police too suspect so.
I’d like to thank Nepal Police investigators for the big chase leading to the recovery of my valuable possession which I’ve been using to take photos and record video clips for my vlog.
I’m equally thankful to Apple for having robust security technology, chiefly the Find My app, which allows all users to track exact geolocations of all Apple devices whether they are turned on or off.
After recovering my phone one high-ranking police official remarked that “this could be the fastest ever recovery of a stolen mobile phone”.
Apple says its latest security update boasts a robust lost phone tracking feature. The Find My iPhone feature, now integrated seamlessly into the Find My app, has become an indispensable tool for device owners, it says.
Apple says it not only provides real-time location tracking but also enables users to remotely lock, erase, or even send messages to their missing devices, enhancing security and privacy.
(Netra Bahadur Swar is a marketing lecturer and a part time vlogger. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)