Recently, 18-year-old Elizabeth Curtiss and her friend, 15-year-old Annika Anderson, found themselves in the empty parking lot of a Sherwood, OR movie theater well past midnight, staring in amazement at Anderson’s phone. The two had left the theater around 12:45 a.m. after seeing a late movie, but quickly returned when Curtiss realized her phone was missing. A search of the theater they were in turned up nothing, and they went back to the car completely stumped.
That’s when Anderson downloaded Apple’s Find My iPhone app. Within moments, the two girls were stunned to see an icon representing her phone moving across a satellite image of the theater they had just left.
“You could refresh it and it was in different spots,” Curtiss told the Sherwood Gazette. “I thought, ‘that’s suspicious.’”
So did the cops. The girls called them after the theater’s cleaning crew refused to let the girls back in, despite the fact that the app clearly showed the phone was moving around the building. Before long, Curtiss and Anderson were back in the theater with two police officers, wondering why a phone that was lost in Theater 8 was now, according to Find My iPhone, in Theater 9. The four cleaning service employees, who were now the only other people there, all denied any knowledge of the phone’s whereabouts.
They might have been vindicated when a search of Theater 9 turned up nothing up, but Curtiss’ suspicions were confirmed when calling the phone revealed it had been shoved into padding that lined the theater walls for sound-proofing. One of the cleaning service employees confessed, and was charged with second-degree theft.
It’s likely developers had entirely different cushions in mind when they envisioned Find My iPhone being used.
“Everyone’s got a smartphone and knows about these kind of ‘find my phone’ apps,” Captain Mark Daniel of the Sherwood Police Department told us. “But it’s the first time a citizen has provided this sort of service to us.”