Police in Vancouver, Washington easily tracked down a man who allegedly stole iPhones and Apple Watches from a T-Mobile store.
Officers responded to a robbery at a T-Mobile brick-and-mortar location around 8 p.m. Thursday night in Vancouver, authorities told local media outlet KATU.
The T-Mobile employees said that a masked man entered the location, held them at gunpoint and directed them to a backroom. The gunman then gained access to a locked storage safe and made off with several iPhones and Apple Watches.
Police were able to electronically track the stolen devices to a nearby house, however. As they set up a perimeter around the area, a car left the home and set off a tracking signal.
Local authorities then stopped the driver. Inside the car, they found the clothing used during the robbery, a loaded gun and the stolen Apple merchandise.
But How Did Police Track the Stolen iPhones?
All in all, it’s a pretty standard story about a robbery. Even the devices — Apple products — are fairly common targets for burglars and thieves.
The interesting part is how police were able to track the stolen devices. Presumably, they were new and in-box products kept in a storage safe in a backroom at T-Mobile.
Devices like these aren’t logged into any iCloud account, meaning they can’t be tracked via Find My iPhone. More than that, they’re also usually turned off — which would stop any other tracking measures.
The local media reports don’t reveal much, either. KATU only said that police used “tracking devices” on the stolen products to find them.
That leaves the only real possibility: the stolen iPhones had some type of GPS tracking tag attached to their packaging. Using this tag, police were able to find the location of the new, in-box devices.
As mentioned earlier, Apple produces are common targets for thieves. Apple Stores robberies are relatively common, although most reports suggest that devices are only stolen from the front display area.
That may be an even worse idea, however. Apple’s display products are outfitted with special software which disables them if they leave a store’s immediate area. They’re even set to do nothing else but broadcast their location until their batteries die.