Engineer by Day; Vigilante by Night

This story is somewhat long; however, I promise that you will be rewarded with laughs, shock, and intrigue as you continue.  OK, maybe you will just learn how to find a lost or stolen cell phone (still not bad, eh?).  Monday morning the 5th of January I was riding the Frontrunner train into Salt Lake as usual.  I was using my phone to check my tasks for the day against the email that had come in over the weekend.  Then came the faux pas; I put my phone on the seat.  😦   I got off the train and went about my day, leaving my phone on the train.  I noticed that my phone was gone almost an hour later at the office. Ugh, Ugh, Ugh. 

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday were spent in hopes of finding my phone.  I tried calling it several times a day, checked my usage (nil usage by the way), and called the UTA lost and found. I had pretty much concluded that my phone was still sitting in the back corner of a Frontrunner train and most likely on silent mode!  Oh well, I started looking for a new phone. 

Wednesday night I was looking around Sprint’s website for a way to notify them that my phone was missing, suspend service on the phone, and ask them about my options.  I stumbled across a service on Sprint’s web site called Family Locator with a free trial!  Intrigued, I quickly learned that Family Locator can locate phones on your account and allows parents the ability to keep track of their kids using GPS or cell tower triangulation.  Has anyone ever used this to locate a lost phone, I thought?  Depending on the accuracy of the track, it is possible that I could locate my missing phone!  So I signed up.  Here is what I saw….

Sprint Family Locator - Find Stolen Phone

Holy Freaking Cow!   West Valley?  First of all, 17 yards blew my mind; second, what the crap was my phone doing here?!  Do you see any UTA facilities?  Some jerk has my phone!!!!!!!!  Here is where all the vigilante impulses came in.  I was going to send this guy a text message with his address saying that I was coming to get my phone.  I started looking for vigilante gear (if only I had a really big black SUV and black leather pants)….  Julie convinced me to call the police instead and I’m glad she did.  I made a few calls and eventually made contact with the UTA police, since it was lost on the train. 

The UTA detectives made contact with me on Thursday morning around 9 AM and asked me to locate the phone again to make sure that it was at the same address as the night before (it was still at the same location).  They told me that a few detectives were heading that way now to check it out.  I got another call an hour or so later; the detectives had made contact with the residents who were denying involvement.  They asked me to locate the phone again; this time I was unable to locate the phone (perhaps it had been turned off).  The detectives said they would do everything possible, but that they couldn’t just demand to go in and search. 

A few hours later I received another call from the detective saying they had retrieved my phone!  The guy that had my phone was wanted for armed robbery in Nevada and had been taken into custody!!!!  I think my jaw dropped at that point!  Not only had I retrieved a lost and stolen cell phone (I hear the chances of this are pretty much null) but I helped catch a criminal!  Needless to say, I was feeling pretty cool.  My phone was returned to me by 2:30 on Thursday afternoon!  Thanks to the UTA detectives for working with a weird guy that said he could track down his stolen cell phone (and who wishes he was batman).   🙂 

For all of you out there with lost or stolen cell phones, if you act quickly (before the battery dies) and the criminals aren’t too bright (they leave the phone on), there is a good chance you may retrieve your missing property!  Good luck. 

10 thoughts on “Engineer by Day; Vigilante by Night

  1. Wow, Rob that’s a story for the news! That is so funny and cool all at the same time. So how was your first wedding photo shoot? Claudia and I have thought we might like to get into that at some point in our life.Travis

  2. I couldn’t believe that when I read it. Way to go. That REALLY would have been a story if you did go viglantae…who know how you would have fared. That’s a great thing to know about locating the phone if lost. You should submit that story to Readers Digest-maybe you could win $200.00. Thanks for making my day.

  3. That is one cool story. I also am really glad you dropped the whole vigilante part though. That could have been bad. Congrats on getting it back!!

  4. Holy Moly…That’s so funny! Good for you for being so determined. I’m sure most of us would have given up much sooner. By the way, Ryan Taylor is in my ward and works for a company that is always looking for photographers…I told him about you. He may be looking you up and contacting you sometime. Yeah, you’re welcome:)

  5. Wow! Really Wow! That is one awesome experience. I totally wish I could have seen that guys face when the police arrived and asked about the phone. And you should share this experience with the software company who made “Family Locator”. Who knows, maybe it’ll be used as a marketing tool. “Download this software and catch bad guys.” Tyson

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