The Orlando Incident Part 2/3: How I got my iPhone back via Find My iPhone

The Orlando Incident Part 2/3: How I got my iPhone back via Find My iPhone

Summary: I lost my iPhone 4 over the weekend and was able to locate it via Find My iPhone (FMI), but I couldn't recover the device. A little gumshoeing and technology gives this story a happy ending.


Yesterday I wrote a post about how I lost my iPhone 4 over the weekend at Disney Hollywood Studios. Although I was able to locate it on a map via Find My iPhone (FMI), I wasn't able to actually recover the device. But I'm happy to report that a little gumshoeing and technology gives this story a happy ending.

To recap: I lost my iPhone in the park on Saturday and checked all the usual places (guest service, lost and found) to no avail. At about 11pm my iPhone showed up on Find My iPhone and I was able to narrow its location down to a building in an apartment complex about 15 miles away.

Sunday morning I created a flyer, made 50 copies and went to the complex where my phone was located the night before. I knocked on all the doors, spoke to the residents and taped flyers to the doors that didn't answer. I also gave some flyers to the management office and posted a few on the communal mailboxes for the building in question.

Here's the copy from the flyer (so you don't have to squint):

My iPhone 4 was lost on Saturday, December 4 at 3:00pm at Disney Hollywood Studios. Do you know someone that works at or went to Hollywood Studios on Saturday? The phone has been located in this area by GPS and has been reported lost to AT&T and the Orlando Police. I’m offering a $50 reward (and immunity from prosecution) for its return. Please call...

Sunday night, my phone showed up again on FMI but this time at a different location, about two miles away -- clearly it was on the move. I sent push notifications to the device offering a reward several times and two of them were successfully displayed (an example is at the top of this post).

Then came my big break.

At about 10am on Monday, I received a call  from the flyer. A man told me that he had found my phone. He told me that he found it in the park, but didn't know what to do with it (1) because it had a passcode lock enabled. I didn't ask too many questions and promptly arranged to pick it up. He suggested a TGI Friday's outside the Millenia Mall, which happened to be about a mile from the spot were the phone was last located.

When I pulled into the TGIF parking lot, I was extremely worried about the presence of a Orlando Police Department vehicle parked prominently by the only entrance to the restaurant. My mind raced. What if the guy got spooked by the cruiser in the lot and thought that it was a sting? He could just take off and I'd be out a phone. At this point adrenaline was coursing through my veins and I wasn't thinking completely rationally. (I really thought that he was going to bail. Too much CSI/24/Dexter perhaps?)

I called him from the drop location and asked how I'd know who he was. He told me that he was driving a silver Jaguar (2). He arrived on schedule, apparently unfazed by the OPD cruiser, after all.

That's him on the left, holding my iPhone in his left hand, wrapped in the flyer that I posted at the apartment complex. (The guy's not guilty of any crime, so I obscured his identity).

The exchange went something like this:

Me: Thanks so much for bringing my phone back!

Him: No problem.

Me: How did you find it?

Him: I found it in Hollywood Studios, by the parade route on a bench. (I was definitely at the parade and on a bench that day, so this jibes. But then again, I think that 50 percent of the park's attendees were at that parade.)

Me: Great!

Him: I took it home (1) but it started beeping and displayed a message with your phone number on it. So I called you (3).

Me: Here's a reward for returning it.

Him: No, I can't take it.

Me: Please take it, it would have cost me a lot more to replace, and that's what I said on the flyer.

Him: No, it's alright.

Me: Seriously, take it. Buy your kid a Christmas present or something.

He reluctantly took the money and we parted ways. Me: extremely happy, him: $50 richer.

A shot of the guy's silver jaguar. (License plate obscured)

Needless to say, I was overjoyed to have my iPhone back. The icing on the cake was that it still had 80 percent of its charge (4), so I was even able to take it to Epcot all day Monday. I had expected the battery to be dead and was resigned to have to losing another day while it charged in my room.

So there you have it. A happy ending as a result of a little gumshoeing and some technology.

I'm just happy to have my phone back. But several people familiar with my story suspect that something nefarious is going on. Here are some of the issues that have been raised:

1. Why did he take a lost phone home with him? Wouldn't most honest people turn lost property in to the front gate or a uniformed staffer?

2. I didn't notice any nice cars in the parking lot of the apartment complex. If this guy didn't live in the apartment complex that I canvassed, how did he see the flyer (which he had a copy of).

3. Did he only return the phone because he knew that I was closing in on him and had his location? (I don't buy this point because if he was scared of getting caught, wouldn't he just chuck the phone into the trash?)

4. Why did he keep the phone turned off? Did the flyers at the apartment complex scare him into giving it back? (Again, I don't buy this because he could have simply thrown it out.)

Also, why did he wait until Monday to call me? Why not Sunday after the push notifications or after seeing my flyer? Do locals really go to Disney parks much? Or was this part of his story fabricated?

I'm a perennial optimist and accept his story at face value. Heck, I'm just happy to have my iPhone back and probably would have accepted just about any story. And besides, if he was a crook, would he have called me to return the phone in the first place? Wouldn't he just throw it away?

What's your take on the guy's story? Was he telling the truth?

Topics: Hardware, iPhone, Mobility, Smartphones

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  • RE: How I got my iPhone back via Find My iPhone

    Maybe he's doing it as a favor. I mean, really, why would a man who can afford a Jaguar keep a lost iPhone?
    • Who took the Photo

      One thing is missed here. Who took the photo. I suggest that Jason is the dishonest one here. How many people did you take with you Jason. Were you a little scared due to the type of neighbourhood and people you saw there where you distributed the flyers. Was your friend with the camera possibly packing some heat as well.

      Do you think people are thick Jason? I can see clearly by your clever omissions that you are the one with the race issues.

      Good try, but not good enough
      • RE: How I got my iPhone back via Find My iPhone

        @jhad77 <br><br>Newsflash: Reporter takes picture on story!<br><br>Newsflash: Person with missing presumed stolen phone takes friend along as backup at handover!<br><br>Seems quite sensible behaviour to me - how this is a race issue I have no idea.<br><br>But I do find the whole story odd too - because of the description of the area, and theSsilver Jaguar - maybe things are different in my country but Silver Jaguars don't love in the rougher parts of the city very often.<br><br>This does not make his story a lie - because sometimes reality just doesn't fit expectations.

        I do get the impression though that he was not in this for the money - as he would have jumped at the $50.

        Either he wasn't the person who took the phone, or his story is genuine and he is a nice guy.

        If he wasn't the person who took it then he is probably sorting out someone else's mess in which case he is also a nice guy.
      • RE: How I got my iPhone back via Find My iPhone

        @jhad77 I hope you will stop and take a moment to expand your perspective on what was presented in the story versus what you have built in your imagination.

        No one made race an issue except you. Your tone is very accusational, and for absolutely no reason except the author wasn't alone.

        Did you read the whole story? Did you catch the part about his being on VACATION? How many people do you know who go on vacation ALONE?

        I never imagined any bias while reading this story, likely because there is none. And, I don't try to find social problems where there are none.

        The fact that you read so much into this doesn't reveal racial bias in the author, you have revealed YOUR OWN racial bias.

        Take a little time to think about that. God bless.
      • RE: How I got my iPhone back via Find My iPhone

        @jhad77 OMG are you serious? You are apparently as thick as you seem to think Jason believes people are if you came to the conclusion that he has race issues. You sir are the only one that seems to have a race issue here.

        I live in the Orlando area (opposite side of town) and can say that most locals I know do not go to the theme parks very often. Most, like myself, avoid them whenever possible. The area all this occurred in is very diverse with both low and higher income areas all over so it doesn't surprise me the guys showed up in a nice car. That alone doesn't mean he doesn't live in the apartments as you frequently see people who choose to spend more on their cars than they do on where they live. That and you can pick up one of those Jags used for less than you might think.

        Glad it all turned out good and while I question a few of the guys decisions he ended up being a stand up guy in the end.
      • RE: How I got my iPhone back via Find My iPhone

        @jhad77 Seriously? Wow. Just Wow.
  • RE: How I got my iPhone back via Find My iPhone

    This is a VERY interesting story. I'm getting the feeling perhaps he wasn't the one to find it.

    Bear in mind that employees of the park are just as keen to pick up valuable lost items to augment their often meager wages.

    What would an employee do? They would turn it off until they were off-site, lest they be zeroed-in upon with the device in their possession or belongings.
    • RE: How I got my iPhone back via Find My iPhone

      @lelandhendrix@... I think it was the guy's son/daughter who found it and finally (late Sun/early Mon) told "Dad" about it who then took the flyer and phone to the drop site. The kid was the one holding back hoping they could keep it and make it work for them somehow.
      • Yeah, I also think...

        @cfcoder someone known to the iPhone returner gave the phone to him. It seems likely the original finder is the returners relative or very close friend.
      • RE: How I got my iPhone back via Find My iPhone

        @cfcoder You're right--and what a difficult thing for him (returner) to have to do. He had to be the ambassador/diplomat in the scenario to help settle a matter for a comrade with unclean hands.
  • Happy ending

    Congratulations, glad to hear you found it back! My advice is to always wear your phone with a cord around your neck. I always have my phone like that - also because it's not insured against accidental drops and the like. I can't lose it, can't drop it, it's always on me, and it's quite difficult to steal. Of course this is only possible if you always wear shirts with breast pockets (I do).
    Daniel Breslauer
  • RE: How I got my iPhone back via Find My iPhone

    To be honest, who cares?
    If I found an iPhone lying around I'd have some serious issues kicking around in my head as to what I should do; they're a wonderful piece of kit at the end of the day.
    If you found a $50 bill would you hand it in? Just for somebody in the office to "claim it" after you walk out?

    Just be thankful he came through in the end, that's my advice.
    • RE: How I got my iPhone back via Find My iPhone

      @RussBroom I tend to agree, also he didn't seem all that keen to accept the reward. Also did he pick it up, figure he'd hand it in ("or something") and forget about it. Wound up at home with it, not sure what to do with it (probably feeling a bit "oops, what do I do now?")

      I can see how this might happen, especially at an amusement park where you might be distracted.
      • RE: How I got my iPhone back via Find My iPhone

        I agree with RussBroom - the important thing is that the iPhone is back, case closed. I cannot think of anything that I would do that Jason did not. Considering the big crimes Wall Street brokers have gotten away with the past five years, who really cares if a) the phone was originally stolen and b) if the alleged lawbreaker (if there is one) got away.
        Citizen Gkar
  • RE: How I got my iPhone back via Find My iPhone

    I think you might be reading too much into it. He probably picked it up with the intention of turning it in to a lost in found, got distracted with what he was doing, and forgot he had it.
  • Not Nice

    I somehow feel that the whole point of this article isn't true to the spirit of honesty. What if the guy really didn't have anything to do with it, what if he really just came to return it and took the money for someone else - just to make a point that honest pays ( to prove to someone who had picked the phone with not so honest intentions). I am sure a lot of your readers would have been happier to learn the data and technology lessons from this event rather than learn about your aspersions around someone which seems to racially motivated. Would you still be saying the same if he was a white guy?
    • RE: How I got my iPhone back via Find My iPhone

      Funny, Jason didn't mention race in his blog, not once. You, however, are the ONLY one bringing it up.
      It's glaringly obvious who has race issues.
      • Ummmmmm.....

        There is a picture of the guy in the article.
      • RE: How I got my iPhone back via Find My iPhone

        @jasonp So there is a picture? How is that mentioning race? He posted a picture of the person who had the phone. That person happened to be black. That is simply a FACT. Should we never post a picture of someone who is returning lost property who happens to be black because someone might see through their race-tinted glass and make some inference? As @meansheep said...nishsingh is the one who has the race issues, especially if you cannot even post a picture of someone.
      • And people like you is why old ladies get

        patted down by the TSA. If a police report said black male robbed a liquor store, you'd have the police stopping every car with a white driver just to make sure we weren't bringing racist.

        I didn't even notice the guy's skin color. The first thing I thought was someone driving a jag probably doesn't need to steal an iPhone.