Glorious iCloud GPS tracking

On 28th July 2012, my wife and I went out sometime around 3:30-4PM and came back home late night around 11PM. As we were walking in, we've noticed couple of odd things that we were sure we did before we left, such as locking the sliding door to the back garden, closing socks drawer, etc. Then I've noticed, both my macbooks were gone. Not only macbooks but iPads, too.

Of course, first thing I do is, make a record of what happened. You don't know what you will be facing later on, and you need an evidence. A hard evidence.

Then, I called the Police.

As I was finishing up my report to the Police, I've realized one thing. the GPS tracking by iCloud from the web. Luckily, my iPad was 3G model. All iPad 3G models have GPS in them. I've already tried it at home with tracking and once it helped me find my iPad when I left it in some other place.

Police on the other side of the phone was patiently waiting for my GPS lock and it did on one of the houses in New Brighton. We've secured the location and I hung up when the unit left and there was nothing for me to do.

But I don't just seat around.

These are my stuff that got stolen, and no matter how caring and considerate the officers are, it is still just one of the burglary case. I went for the house myself.

Police was already there hiding in the dark around the corner and we talked and tried a few tricks we could pull without search warrant.

Problem was, there wasn't a lock tight GPS signal and we couldn't just march in to any house without search warrant. And the warrant would go wasted if the house was the wrong one. We had to give up and call it off.

My wife and I couldn't sleep till 3 in the morning. And we did somehow, I was up at 6:30 in the morning tried to get back to sleep.

I got out of the bed at 8:30 and with a toothbrush in my mouth, I went to the computer to see if my iPad has moved. I figured, even on Sunday, he might go to work.

I was right.

Signal was coming from somewhere in the middle of nowhere in between Belfast and Marshland. I made a phone call to the Police, gave them an update and took my ass to the area.

Possible thief was in Periodic Detention. Way to go clean. After careful thoughts between me and the officers, we decided to play a bit and do the same thing I did the night before.

Police approached the people and I pinged my iPad to make a loud noise.

It worked.

Noise came from one of the PDs' backpack and Police arrested the guy.

Yes, I got my stuff back. Not all of them as more are missing as time goes. But most crucial ones, I got them back.

Here are list of tips I'd like to tell the people who got burgled.

1. If you are certain that you got burgled, don't touch anything. Make a record of how it looks and report to the Police. The faster you do, the better chance you get to catch the bastard.

2. It will be extremely hard to get thief's fingerprints from drawers or door knobs. We touch them all the time, there are just too many fingerprints to work on. Rather, focus on things you don't touch normally. Like window frames, wall on the side of the doors, etc.

3. From 1st October, NZ Police gets a power to get in and search the property if there is enough suspicion. GPS tracking is a good example. Up until now, we needed a search warrant even when GPS track showed so clearly. NZ law is getting upgraded. This will help in great amount in such cases like mine.

4. If you have a lead, there's nothing wrong making a first move to the site before Police does. Just don't do anything but observe. It's Police who needs to do the job for you. Do the best to help the Police when they come.

5. Latest gadgets like smartphones and tablets, laptops come with a tracking technology. Even if they don't, there are some services online that offers them. Some are not as accurate as others but it will be a great additional security to have. If you move fast, you can nail the bastard. Also, when you buy something, have receipt in a safe place and box in a separate place. And make a note of serial numbers in a separate file. But don't save them in a computer but online. Cloud services are great for these. Like iCloud, Dropbox, Skydrive, Google Drive, etc.