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by Ashleigh Allsopp

Man poses as woman on dating site to lure iPhone thief, another films violent confrontation, posts it online

Jan 12, 20134 mins
Computers and PeripheralsData and Information SecurityiPad

Stolen iPhones were returned during holiday period after shocking confrontations

Two lost iPhones have been recovered in some unusual and shocking ways recently, with one man posing as a woman on an online dating site to catch a thief, and another filming his violent encounter with the person who stole his iPhone after managing to track him down.

More strange security news

Musician Nadav Nirenberg didn’t have the best start to 2013 after leaving his iPhone in a taxi on New Years’ Eve on his way to a concert in New York. When he had exhausted all attempts of making contact with the person who had found it, he had given up hope, he explained on his blog.

But the next day, Nirenberg found that someone was using his lost iPhone to send messages to local women through Nirenberg’s OkCupid online dating account, which he accessed through an app that didn’t require a password to log in.

So, Nirenberg decided to take action, and created a face OkCupid profile where he posed as ‘Jennifer Rodriguez’ and convinced the thief to meet with ‘her’ at his apartment.

When the thief arrived at the address Nirenberg had given him (on a floor above his real apartment), he was carrying a bottle of wine. Nirenberg approached him and asked for his phone back, offering a $20 reward as a peace offering. Nirenberg said he was carrying a hammer in one hand just in case, though.

Thankfully, the thief returned the phone and left the building, and Nirenberg found that he had not accessed personal applications such as Facebook or email.

Meanwhile, a video of one man’s violent encounter with the person who stole his iPhone has been circulating the web, after tracking him down using Find My iPhone.

ABC reports that Kenneth Schmidgall lost his iPhone on 30 December, and when no one returned his desperate calls to the phone, he decided to go and get it back himself.

“We just wanted the phone back,” said Schmidgall’s friend Greg Torkelson. “Some of it was a little bit of adrenaline you know, it was the chase of trying to get the guy.”

The pair used Apple’s Find My iPhone app to track his iPhone, until they eventually pinpointed the thief carrying it. “I saw the gentleman on the bike and we followed it and kept tracking it and every time it would stop, the guy on the bike would stop,” said Schmidgall.

The video, which now has more than 85,000 views on YouTube, shows the fight between Schmidgall and the iPhone robber, who exchanged various punches and caused some nasty injuries.

Torkelson, a photographer, filmed the fight until he eventually pepper-sprayed the thief and tried to make a citizen’s arrest. Another man who claimed to be an off duty police officer stepped in until the police arrived.

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Schmidgall’s violent approach to retrieving his iPhone is certainly not one that we think should be adopted by others, though. When ABC asked him whether the iPhone was worth it, Schmidgall replied: “It’s not the phone that’s so much important. It’s the people that get away with this kind of stuff all the time with cellphones being stolen.”

Torkelson added: “Hopefully, he [the thief] won’t try this again and that anybody else out there that’s seen the video or is watching the segment will also think twice before stealing somebody’s phone.”

“I do think I taught him his lesson,” said Schmidgall. “I really don’t think people should be going out and getting in fights with people because of their cellphones but there comes a point when you have to stand up for yourself and say, ‘This is my stuff, and I’m not going to let people get away with taking it.”

Torkelson thinks that the thief was taken into custody over outstanding warrants from past crimes, but police haven’t confirmed that yet.

These recent incidents are not the first times owners have caught iPhone thieves in unconventional ways.

One iCloud user tracked down the person who stole her iPhone after the thief’s photos appeared in her photo stream, and one woman unwittingly took a photograph of herself unlocking a stolen iPhone with the iGotYa app installed.