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The Case of the Missing iPhone

Sunday afternoon, Mason and Morgan went outside to play around 5:30 p.m. The sun was still out, it wasn’t too windy, birds were chirping… good times, all around. When the two of them decided to play basketball, Morgan set her phone down on the bumper of Susan’s car. A few minutes later, now dusk, Susan left to go pick up stuff for dinner. Five to ten minutes later, Morgan remembered her phone was still sitting on Susan’s bumper, and panic ensued.

By the time I was drawn into this, it was dark. The kids and I retraced Susan’s path through the neighborhood. I drove, while the kids hung out the truck’s windows with flashlights in hand, scouring the road’s shoulder for any sign of the phone. We found nothing. Susan’s path led from the neighborhood out to Northwest Expressway. My thinking was if the phone was still in the neighborhood there was a good chance of finding it. If it had fallen off between the neighborhood and the expressway, we still had a fair chance. And if it had made it all the way to the expressway, it was probably gone for good.

On Monday, with aid from sunlight, I drove the path a few more times after dropping the kids off for school. During my lunch break, I walked the length of the neighborhood. I saw lots of beer bottles and black pieces of plastic, but nothing resembling Morgan’s phone. We also tried calling the phone multiple times, but it was going directly to voicemail despite the fact that Morgan swore it had 50% battery and was on when she set it down.

After school, Mason and I drove the entire route. Each time we saw something on the side of the road Mason hopped out to investigate.

When we got home, Mason fired up “Find My iPhone,” an app that will help you locate your lost phone, and sure enough, a blip appeared on its radar. The phone was showing up just south of 23rd and NE Bryant, almost 30 miles away.

By this time Mason had remotely locked his sister’s phone and placed a message on the home screen with our contact information. We had also texted and called the phone multiple times. Someone had the phone turned on but was ignoring us.

After contacting the local police department we were instructed to go to a public location near the phone (a gas station, etc.) and call the police department back. An officer would be dispatched and we would all go retrieve the phone together. Things were looking up! Mason and I hopped in the truck and drove over to a funeral home at NE 36th and Bryant. In retrospect, perhaps the funeral home was an omen.

By the time the officer arrived the phone had moved positions. It was floating up and down NE Bryant, and the officer told us that unless the phone was in one place he really couldn’t help us. He also explained that the Find My iPhone feature is only accurate to 900 meters. I have to disagree with him on this one — after looking up my own iPad and iPhone, I can tell not only that they are inside my house, but which one is in the living room and which one is in the bedroom. Regardless, he told us there wasn’t anything he could do, which would have been good information to have before we drove half an hour to meet him.

Mason and I pinged the phone last time and it returned an address of NE 34th and Bryant. Suddenly the phone went offline. We called it back and it went directly to voice mail. Someone had just turned it off.

With one final attempt at sleuthing Mason and I drove to where the phone was pinging. At exactly NE 34th and Bryant was a crew of 10-15 road construction workers, repairing the road. To the west of that location was an unoccupied neighborhood still under construction, and the houses to the east were too far away for it to be there. Based on where the ping had moved to, it seemed to me like one of the workers probably had the phone on them.

As to how Morgan’s phone made its way from the north side of Yukon to the NE side of Oklahoma City in less than twelve hours, your guess is as good as mine. Monday is garbage pick up day, and my personal opinion is that one of the trash collectors spotted the phone near the side of the road in our neighborhood, picked it up, and kept it. That’s just my made up theory. Maybe the phone made it all the way to the store and someone found it there. Who knows. The one thing we do know is whoever found the phone has no intention of returning it.

The happy ending, if there is one, is that we had the foresight to purchase insurance on Morgan’s phone, which covers (we’ve already called and checked) both loss and theft. Her old phone has been remotely locked and is (as far as I know) in an unusable. Morgan will be getting a free replacement soon and, I can only imagine, will be a little more careful next time where she sets it down.

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3 comments to The Case of the Missing iPhone

  • brent

    GPS accuracy is about 10 meters, not 900. He was just blowing you off.

  • Liz

    Bless her heart………………………………………………I don’t know if this helps or not, but I called her phone at 7:47 last night and heard her recorded voice message…

    Anyway, hopefully she’ll have a replacement soon.

  • Sorry about the phone being lost, but this was a great story. Good writing! I know from experience that the ‘Find My iPhone’ can be tracked really closely by a few feet. Sometimes, depending on what cell area, it has glitched a little if it is near a river (showing that it is on one side of the river instead of the other). I read in the paper a few months ago someone had their phone stolen on the subway. The police used the Find- app and pinged it and heard it a few feet away in the thief’s pants!

    I hope the phone gets replaced quickly. I am sure today phones are the center of universes for kids. Not unlike us when we had to use quarters on payphones (or maybe used the Cap’n Crunch whistle ;) )