updated 08:50 pm EDT, Mon August 27, 2012
Incident cracks smartphone theft ring
Tracking a stolen iPhone led to an elaborate chase through the streets of San Francisco earlier today, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Around 6:30 AM, two armed robbers stole an iPhone from a person on a street in the neighborhood of Ocean View. Using a GPS tracking app -- possibly Find My iPhone -- police were able to narrow the phone's location down to a place in Noe Valley. When the suspects spotted police closing in, they ran, and one of them tried to climb over a gate near St. Paul's Catholic Church.
"With an officer in pursuit, the suspect turned toward the officer with his hand concealed near his torso," adds Officer Gordon Shyy, a PD spokesman. "That is when the officer discharged her firearm." The shot -- fired around 6:50 AM -- missed, and the officer who fired it later twisted her ankle, allowing the suspect to get away. For about 30 minutes during the St. Paul's incident, both the church and its neighboring elementary school were locked down. Children were arriving just as the lockdown was being put in place.
Despite losing one of the suspects, police were able to capture the second person on Church Street. GPS tracking then led to a car near Seventh Avenue in the Sunset, which had one person sitting inside and another hiding in the trunk. The missing iPhone was there, along with several other stolen smartphones. The car's registration was used to locate a residence on Eighth Avenue, where two other people were taken into custody.
No names have been released yet, and charges against all of the suspects are still pending. Police suggest, though, that the crime may be linked to a phone theft ring. Gadget theft is a severe problem in San Francisco, which has a large concentration of mobile device users, and Apple devices in particular. iPhones can fetch unusually high prices on the black market.