Fire up the app and follow that iPad - we know where you are

02:46, Jan 21 2014
Chris Phillips
TRUE DETECTIVE: Chris Phillips with the iPhone he used to locate the person who stole his iPad from his car on Rocks Rd on January 10.

A father and son duo, with the help of Nelson police and an iPhone, have busted a thief who nicked their belongings.

In a story reminiscent of a low-grade Hollywood action movie, Markham and Chris Phillips were enjoying a meal at Harbour Light Bistro on Rocks Rd only to return to a ransacked car.

Father Chris Phillips' iPad, glasses, and wallet containing cash were stolen, however, hope was not lost.

"As despair and disgust begin to kick in, we remember a newly installed tracking application on both the stolen iPad and the retained iPhone. We fire up the app. The iPad icon pings onto the map," Otago University student Markham Phillips said.

The iPhone tracked the iPad in Stoke, so they set off to get it back. On the way the pair realised it was best to get the police on their side.

Markham filed a report with the Nelson police and "called for back-up" while Mr Phillips drove "like a man on a mission".


The tracking device led them to a house "full of suspicious sunglass-wearing scoundrels", Markham said.

They saw a man come out of the house and jump into a black BMW, the tracker went off so they were in hot pursuit. They ended up in Victory Square where Nelson police met them.

However, the trail went cold as the iPad appeared to be turned off and no longer tracking. The police told the pair to call them if they got a new location.

Almost ready to admit defeat, the Phillips set the iPad to "lost mode" and sent a message to the iPad screen stating: "It's a small town. We've seen you, your car, and your friends. Drop the bag and iPad at Countdown by the Warehouse by 5pm tomorrow and we'll leave the cops out of it".

Later that night, the tracker was back on with a new location in Washington Valley. The pair called the police again to try to get backup while they went to the location and waited downhill from a car they thought was suspicious.

"Reminiscing old school cop shows, having not eaten dinner, we begin to wish we had some stale coffee and Chinese takeaway to sustain the stake-out. Hungry and impatient, we call up the station again to check their ETA.

"Mid conversation we receive an unknown call. I put the station on hold and answer the call. A man's voice comes through quietly and carefully: ‘I have your stuff.' He claims he'll give it back and confirms that it's all there. I suggest a neutral place. He agrees.

"I assure him that as long as he sticks to his word and there's no funny stuff, then we won't need to involve the police," Markham said.

However, the police then arrived to where the Phillips were.

Sergeant Jo Managh said a team of six police arrived to the address.

They entered the house, searched it and found the stolen iPad along with other items of property. "The offender was arrested and charged with the theft and subsequently has been remanded in custody," she said.

It was a team effort, Ms Managh said. "The fact that technology allows us and affords us to track our own stolen property is fantastic. It helped us locate and recover it back to the victim".

Detective Kelvin Heiford said he liaised with the duo through their chase and the result was "awesome".

The arrested man was on bail already, though Mr Heiford could not comment on the charges.

The accused was remanded in custody.

The Nelson Mail