Police reaction: "Get in the car, let's go get it!"
Time it took for first report to arrive: A few hours
Once received, time it took for police to recover it: About 30 minutes
Final thoughts: Amazing. Ecstatic
Full story below:
Seven other guys and I had gone down to Tijuana for the weekend. We had decided we would only wear suits for the entire three days.
On the second night we walked into a club with a beach volleyball court in the center surrounded by picnic tables. Naturally we had to get it going.
After a few rallies I had to take my jacket off to get more competitive. I laid it on a picnic table and didn't think twice about it. Had a bunch to drink, danced, played some volleyball.
At the end of the night my phone was missing. Thinking it had fallen out of my jacket into the sand we started combing the area but couldn't find it. I asked the bartender but he said nothing had been turned in. I was upset for a bit but ultimately wrote it off and decided to not let it ruin the weekend. We called it a couple of times, sent messages through SMS offering a reward but didn't spend much time brooding over it.
The next morning a friend had mentioned this 'app that tracks your phone if it's stolen' and I remembered I had Prey installed! It was a long shot as the phone was almost drained and wouldn't still be on by now, but maybe someone had found it and charged it. So I logged into Prey on a laptop a friend had brought and set it as missing. . . . Nothing.
A few hours go by and lo-and-behold it got a hit! The photos were off a ceiling fan and curtains and a couch, but no faces.
We decide to ask some security guards to call the police for us. They immediately tell us that they'll call them for us if we really wanted but it was ultimately going to be pointless. We insist so they call them up.
An older man driving a ridiculous police truck rolls up. He speaks no english so the security guards translate the situation for us. He takes a look at the location and it's about a 20 minute drive away. He radio's to his dispatch and talks to them for about 20 minutes. He's noticeably impressed with the program and finally tells us to get in the truck and we'll go get it.
Let me tell you, driving around in a badass police truck through Tijuana felt pretty awesome. We get to the street corner where the last hit was, and it's shady for sure. He asks we stay in the truck and looks around for the curtains, a very distinguishable black and white pattern. But none of us can see them in any of the windows. They could be on the back side of the house but even he isn't keen on searching around back through each house around.
A curious neighbour comes up and starts talking with the police officer. He seems really nice and wants to help. He knocks on a few of his neighbours doors and asks them if they know anything but everyone just shakes their heads.
It seems hopeless even if we were so close. It was within metres but we couldn't find it. We were just about to call it quits and say we gave it a good shot.
A moment of brilliance! I ask the neighbour if I can use his wifi for the laptop I brought, he has no problem and puts his password in for me. I log back into Prey and set off the alarm, hoping we can hear it. . . Nothing. It's too loud. Sirens blaring, mariachi music blasting. Maybe the alarm made the person pick the phone up and got a new photo.
A few seconds go by and yes! A perfect picture of their face. I show it to the neighbour, he takes a second to look and it and says 'Si'. Points to a house and tells us he lives there.
The police officer calmly tells us to stay in the truck still. He walks over and knocks on the door. After a few minutes the man seems very nervous. I told the police officer I didn't want to press charges and just wanted my phone back. The man comes out of the house and talks to us. He works at the bar, 'found' the phone, was going to return it, didn't want anyone else to steal it. I tell him I don't care and to just give me my phone. He brings us all inside, introducing us to his family, saying he works two jobs and is an honest man. Again I just tell him I don't want to press charges. He gives me my phone.
We hop back in the truck and drive back. I'm euphoric and laughing with excitement that this actually worked.
Thank you for this app. Not only did it get my phone back, but gave me a great story to tell and helped solve an international crime.