Phone app helps track stolen items

Modern technology is making things harder on criminals these days, and easier on law enforcement.

This is the age of smartphones, iPads and laptops.

Once a crook walks out of a surveillance camera's view, it might be hard to track them especially if they are wearing a disguise.

Now, some of the items most coveted by thieves are the very items leading police to them.
Last December, law enforcement in LaPorte County invited the media to see a roomful of stolen items they recovered from a home near Michigan City.

A burglary ring hit about a dozen homes in western LaPorte County, stealing thousands of dollars’ worth of people's property.

Police arrested a Michigan City area couple in connection with the thefts.

The big break came courtesy of good old-fashioned police work and modern technology.

Detective Sgt. Andrew Hynek, from the LaPorte County Police Department, says, “We were able to gather some intel on who may have been responsible for several, or believed to be responsible for several burglaries, along with some modern day technology that allowed us, directed us where to go and a search warrant was issued for the residence and all this property was recovered.”

Some of the very items the crooks stole led police right to their front door.

Hynek says, “The more technologically advanced society that we have now, especially with small electronic devices, we have the ability, or consumers have the ability to put tracking devices on those so should they become the victim of a property crime we, as detectives, have the ability to track that item, which was one of the parts that led to this case.”

In this case, it was a tracking device in a stolen iPad that tracked to the couple's home where the other stolen items were.

The victim had downloaded a Find My iPhone app that can be used on iPhones, iPads and Mac laptops.

“A lot of the smaller devices, especially like apple products, have tracking applications that a consumer can download to their iPad, their iPod, their iPhone as well as other brands; it's not necessarily specific to Apple that allows a consumer to basically put a tracking GPS device on to an electronic. That way if it becomes stolen they can track, or the police can track its location remotely,” Hynek says.

While all this high tech help is important, police want to remind residents that old crime prevention methods are just as important.

Hynek says, “The main thing we try to pound home to people is to record serial numbers and take photographs of their property.”

Because it is really the easiest way to re-claim your stolen property, and it may help someone else recover theirs and put many thieves behind bars.

Hynek adds, “The one serial number to that small item may be the break in a big case like this. Maybe one of our patrol officer comes across an iPad in a vehicle and runs a serial number and it comes up with a hit, which leads us to the people in that car and we expand that investigation and it leads us to a residence, or to a warehouse where there's a lot more property all because of one serial number from one victim, which may close 20 or 30 cases.”
Hynek says that perhaps the biggest thing they rely on is neighbors watching neighbors.

He said only your neighbor knows what car or cars are supposed to be in your driveway.

He adds we need everyday people to be the eyes and ears for police.

The tracking app is free. If you do not have an Apple product, other brands offer low-cost or no-cost tracking apps as well.

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