Find My Phone

2016, Crime  -  22 min Leave a Comment
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About 300 smartphones get reported as stolen every week in the Netherlands.  In Amsterdam alone, about 17 missing phones are reported every day. Of course, this number does not include the owners that never go to the police.

Once your phone gets stolen, whoever finds it basically has unlimited access to all your private data because your smartphone has access to all your email accounts, contacts, photos, videos, text messages, etc. This means that some stranger can suddenly get all kinds of private information about you.

What kind of person steals a smartphone and what do they do with it? One Amsterdam police officer believes that the stolen phones are sold to Eastern European countries for spare parts.

After his phone got stolen during lunch, filmmaker Anthony van deer Meer realized that the ‘Find my iPhone’ app was useless. He was only able to trace the last few meters his iPhone traveled before going offline. The only thing the thief had to do was to take the SIM card out of the phone and reset it to make it untraceable. There are also many websites that give detailed information about how to go about unlocking a smartphone.

This short documentary follows the trail of a stolen android phone that was armed with a disguised version of a popular anti-theft app called Cerberus.  This application not only gives the location of the phone but also allows the device to take photos, videos, and record sounds remotely.  Due to the fact that the android’s memory is divided in two, when the phone is reset only the user’s part is deleted. The system remains intact and will only be changed during updates or if another operating system is installed.

The thief installed a new SIM card on the phone that was being used for the experiment almost immediately, but it took him a few days to delete any of the victim’s information.

As the time passed, the filmmaker started developing a strange sympathy and compassion for the phone thief who seemed to live a lonely and dull life. Ironically, he also seemed to be a very religious person who fervently believed that if he prayed every hour on a Friday, his prayers would get answered immediately.

But Anthony receives a rude awakening when he finally stares into the cold eyes of the man who stole his phone.