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Dude Finds His Stolen iPhone with “Find My iPhone”

One of the first incidents of someone finding their lost or stolen iPhone has come to light as technical writer Kevin Miller used the service to track down an iPhone he left in a Chicago bar. Mr. Miller was visiting Chicago for Brickworld (a LEGO gathering), and with the help of friends, a MacBook Pro, and a Sprint wireless 3G access card, he was able to track down his phone and get it back.

"I raced back into the bar [where I had left my iPhone]," he wrote in a blog entry, "not even particularly concerned, but it was gone like baby. In less than five minutes, with very few people in the small place, my beloved JesusPhone had managed to vanish into a black hole."

He added, "So I felt like about zero cents, but then we giddily realized that I had just activated the brand-new Find My iPhone service. Even better, Mark had a Sprint (yes, Sprint) USB dongle giving him Internet access over 3G on his MacBook Pro. Excited to try it out, we hopped onto and clicked the Find My iPhone link."

Mr. Miller and his friends then spent the evening trying to find the device while still at the bar, but received messages from MobileMe that it wasn't on a network. In fact, he had no luck finding it until the next morning when he received an e-mail from MobileMe notifying him that a message he sent to be displayed on the phone had been successfully sent.

"Holy crap!," he wrote. "I jumped back to and clicked Find My iPhone again, and to my absolute shock and amazement, it displayed Google Maps and drew a circle around Medill St.," a street close to the bar where he had left his iPhone.

The three visitors were apparently able to track down the iPhone, and confronted the individual who had it at a bus stop. It turns out he works at the bar, and he told Mr. Miller that he had intended to give it back but was intimated by the messages that appeared on the iPhone's display.

In the end, hands were shaken, rewards offered via screen display were not needed, and Mr. Miller said, "it was almost worth losing the phone just for the thrill of finding it like this. We want to pitch a reality show to the Discovery Channel: "Phone Hunters." It certainly felt like we were in one there for a second."

You can see screen shots of the e-mails sent by MobileMe and some simulated Google Maps screen shots in the full blog entry. He also offers a good deal more color commentary on the pursuit and ensuing adventure.

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