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Posted on Mon, Oct 8, 2012 : 3:45 p.m.

Ann Arbor man's smartphone locator application helps recover stolen SUV

By John Counts

A 21-year-old Ann Arbor man's vehicle was tracked down in Royal Oak after being stolen from outside his residence in the 1000 block of Oakland Avenue Saturday thanks to an application on his smartphone, police said.

Ann Arbor police were dispatched to a home invasion at the address around 1 p.m. The 21-year-old told police he had gone to sleep at 4 a.m. Saturday.

"When he woke up at 11:30 a.m., he noticed items missing (from his residence,)" said Lt. Renee Bush. "He also noticed his car was gone."

A backpack, laptop, spare key and wallet were reported stolen from the man's room, she added. The suspect appeared to have gotten in through an unlocked window, which was still propped open when police arrived on the scene.

Police were able to track down the man's Honda CRV through the man's smartphone, which had a locator application on it, police said.

There was a suspect sleeping in the vehicle when it was found by Royal Oak police, Bush said. Ann Arbor police did not immediately have details on the suspect, who was arrested in connection with the auto theft.

Police continue to investigate.

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John Counts covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Tue, Oct 9, 2012 : 1:09 p.m.

Was the smartphone stolen from inside the house or did he happen to leave it in his car?


Tue, Oct 9, 2012 : 11:50 a.m.

the "Find my iPhone" app saved my phone too. I forgot my phone in at a local restaurant. A couple hours later I ran the app from my iPad when I realized I didn't have my phone, suspecting it was at the restaurant. The app showed the phone was at a part of town that I've never been to before. I called the manger, told them I forgot my phone and where it was showing up on the GPS. I got a call back in less than an hour and told to come to the restaurant to pick it and that an employee had taken the phone home for "safe keeping". Yeah, I don't go to that restaurant anymore.


Tue, Oct 9, 2012 : 2:37 p.m.

"safe keeping" Classic!


Tue, Oct 9, 2012 : 2:41 a.m.

Great !! Best news I have heard all day!


Tue, Oct 9, 2012 : 12:56 a.m.

@ Eagleman. Yup! If you own both an iPhone + a Mac, the "Find My Phone" function is bundled with your free subscription to Apple's iCloud. So if you have a Mac you can always find your iPhone, even if it is turned off. iCloud also allows you to access your email, calendar and contacts book + they give you an Apple email ady: Your free iCloud account can hold 5GB. If you want to bump-it-up to 50 Gigs the cost is $100 a year and you can back-up all your data to the "cloud." If you own an iPhone but do not own a Mac, I am not aware of any App that can do what "Find My Phone" on the iCloud does. A competitive advantage of Apple!


Tue, Oct 9, 2012 : 2:39 p.m.

It should be mentioned, if you want to use find my iphone on your Apple computer, you will need to be running OS10.7.x or later.


Tue, Oct 9, 2012 : 1:27 p.m.

You don't need a Mac computer to set up this application or to track your phone. If you have an iPhone just go to any computer and go to the webstie You can set your phone up and track it there. If you have a Mac computer you can set this site up to track your computer as well. That way if someone steals your laptop you can track it using any computer. You can also lock and delete the memory of your devices from I've used the site just to make my phone alarm go off so I could find my phone in the house. Its quite handy. If your kids or spouse have iPhones you can keep track of them on there too.


Tue, Oct 9, 2012 : 12:38 a.m.

The iPhone has a find my phone feature that runs through iCloud. The same is true for MacBooks and iPads. I would assume Androids would have something similar.


Mon, Oct 8, 2012 : 11:40 p.m.

Pretty bad when we can't even leave a window open these days. Every night we have to assume our home is going to be targeted by a thief... because desperate people do desperate things. Hopefully this fellow will also get his laptop and other items back as well. A follow-up on this story would be nice.


Tue, Oct 9, 2012 : 1:45 p.m.

Perp: "Note to self: steal guard dog."


Tue, Oct 9, 2012 : 3:12 a.m.

I leave my windows open and doors unlocked so I can see if my guard dog was really worth the money :-)


Mon, Oct 8, 2012 : 10:25 p.m.

He could have an Android phone running Google Latitude, or one of the other Android apps.....

Richard Carter

Tue, Oct 9, 2012 : 5:08 p.m.

Latitude has its problems ... when the phone has the screen off, it doesn't generally update, so the thief could take off and be miles away. I'm not a shill for the developer, just a happy user but there's an Android app add-on to Latitude called Backitude that you can set to, for instance, tell Latitude to update every 5 minutes, and a few other features.


Mon, Oct 8, 2012 : 9:10 p.m.

You should report on what the name of the application was. Always good to know that a product works.


Mon, Oct 8, 2012 : 9:07 p.m.

Apple doesn't call them "Smart" phones for nothing!


Mon, Oct 8, 2012 : 8:42 p.m.

Nothing like using your brains! "Police were able to track down the man's Honda CRV through the man's smartphone, which had a locator application on it" We need to send the Robber to Community College to learn how to steal the smart way!


Mon, Oct 8, 2012 : 8:27 p.m.

name of the app?


Tue, Oct 9, 2012 : 7:31 p.m.

He could have had an Android phone like 60% of people.


Tue, Oct 9, 2012 : 2 a.m.

Find my Iphone is the name


Mon, Oct 8, 2012 : 7:56 p.m.

I'd suspect he had an iphone and used the find my iphone app. It's become quite handy to track down thieves. I've seen a report recently where its been getting plenty of thieving TSA agents busted.

Richard Carter

Tue, Oct 9, 2012 : 5:06 p.m.

There are also some good android apps for this.


Tue, Oct 9, 2012 : 12:08 p.m.

It helps me locate my son, too!

Atticus F.

Mon, Oct 8, 2012 : 7:56 p.m.