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August 2, 2012 5:28 PM   Subscribe

David Pogue, the tech columnist for The New York Times, lost his iPhone. Thanks to his 1.4 million Twitter followers, and the Prince George's County police department, it has been found.
posted by wensink (67 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is cool but also seems like a weird/sizable waste of law enforcement resources?
posted by liketitanic at 5:32 PM on August 2, 2012 [8 favorites]


AppleCare should come with 1.2 million devoted customer service reps willing to go every length to find your iPhone for you if you lose it.
posted by anewnadir at 5:33 PM on August 2, 2012 [7 favorites]


It's a pity the NYT pays Pogue so little that he had to make such a big deal out of this. And I'm sure other, less famous people, receive equal attention from police departments nationwide.
posted by entropicamericana at 5:36 PM on August 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm pretty sure Apple would be more than happy to send Pogue a new iPhone for free. It's the least they can do for him...
posted by PhillC at 5:37 PM on August 2, 2012 [6 favorites]


And of course, Gizmodo basically dedicated the entire day to this national crisis. After about the 6th update, it stopped being mildly amusing and made me just want to punch a kitten.

So, fuck Gizmodo, fuck David Pogue, fuck the iPhone, fuck the Prince George's County police department, fuck Twitter, fuck the internet, fuck everything, whatever.
posted by kbanas at 5:43 PM on August 2, 2012 [42 favorites]


I feel better now. Thanks.
posted by kbanas at 5:43 PM on August 2, 2012 [20 favorites]


No problem.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:48 PM on August 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Every now and then Gizmodo knows exactly the right level of attention a story deserves.
posted by midmarch snowman at 5:51 PM on August 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


I used to live outside of College Park Maryland, which is located within Prince George's County. One night I was hanging out at a friend's house, and a guy busted in, high as a kite, demanding money that nobody owed him. We spent a very tense 10 minutes try to convince him that we didn't owe him money as someone in the next room called the cops and he threatened to beat the shit out of us. We got him out of the house and he began to push and kick the cars in the driveway for about another 10 minutes or so, including a moment where he rushed the front door again. The PG county police showed up about 30 minutes after that, came up to the front door and said, 'there's no crime here', looking pissed off at us and then left without taking a report.

Anyway, congrats to this guy on getting his phone back!
posted by codacorolla at 5:53 PM on August 2, 2012 [25 favorites]


Wow. The Prince George's County Police did something helpful for a change.
posted by jefflowrey at 5:53 PM on August 2, 2012


Yesterday some rich asshole got out of his shiny new SUV to punch me in the eye because he didn't like me rapping on the side of his car as he barreled through a crosswalk full of people at speed in total disregard of the "Stop for pedestrians" sign smack in between the lanes. Called 911 but the police never showed, this morning when I scheduled a callback through the automated system they didn't call back, then I called the non-emergency number and they transferred me to four different people and had me on hold for half an hour before finally transferring me to a guy who pretended, badly, that he couldn't hear me before hanging up. When I went to the police station in person I finally got the guy to fill out a report while snarling at me that it was completely futile and I was wasting their time, don't you know assaulting random pedestrians is just one of the perks of having a big fancy car?

But some other rich asshole got his phone back because the police went door to door combing through the grass for it like it was the fucking Lindbergh baby, so, yay I guess.
posted by enn at 5:54 PM on August 2, 2012 [51 favorites]


One day, we'll look back and ask, where were we when Pogue found his phone?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:54 PM on August 2, 2012 [27 favorites]


don't you know assaulting random pedestrians is just one of the perks of having a big fancy car?

Apparently he didn't pay for the bladed weapons upgrade.

Next years Audi comes with a flamethrower option!
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:57 PM on August 2, 2012


I read the Gizmodo story... by the 10th or so update I assumed Gizmodo was just making fun of everything, but it looks like they played it serious. Although the fact they made a *photo* blinks makes me think maybe they didn't take it totally serious? So it just confuses me and the fact that Pogue apparently goated them on with the street view/aerial photos of some random houses. Instead of being like, yo dudes, maybe that isn't cool. GPS ain't always that accurate, fellows. I don't know. Just a weird, uncomfortable story. (Although I totally understand Pogue taking it very seriously--losing your phone is really a huge loss of control and helplessness feeling.)
posted by skynxnex at 5:58 PM on August 2, 2012


Also, from the comments,

So people, quit your jealous diatribe. Yes, David is famous. Get over it. Did that influence the police's decision? Maybe. Did the police have better things to do at the time. Probably not. I thought it was an intriguing story and I'm glad David got his iPhone back.

My sides. They split.
posted by codacorolla at 5:58 PM on August 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


If I lived anywhere near this guy, I'd steal his phone again and mail it to China.
posted by orme at 5:58 PM on August 2, 2012 [14 favorites]


And I posted the map of the house to my 1.4 million Twitter followers, who have never let me down.

To my astonishment, the “find Pogue’s phone” quest went instantly viral.


This is my astonished face.
posted by vidur at 5:58 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is cool but also seems like a weird/sizable waste of law enforcement resources?

cough
posted by hal9k at 5:59 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


thanks...now I can get a good night's sleep.
posted by Postroad at 6:00 PM on August 2, 2012


Sorry, but this story is not remotely as good as the one about the MacBook left in the trunk of a NYC taxicab by Chris Crowley.
posted by beagle at 6:01 PM on August 2, 2012 [6 favorites]


@beagle Is Chris Crowley the Hulk [Dana Gould's version]?
posted by wensink at 6:10 PM on August 2, 2012


Then who was thief?

Was someone charged with pick-pocketing or theft?
posted by panaceanot at 6:14 PM on August 2, 2012


By the end of it, Gizmodo was applying the blink tag to everything. It rendered the whole thing kind of sublime.
posted by bicyclefish at 6:19 PM on August 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


I love my iphone, but I'm really pretty surprised that someone got to it before the battery died...I'm lucky to get a full day out of mine with just moderate use.
posted by nevercalm at 6:27 PM on August 2, 2012


Damnit, I'm not going to really love this story until a surveillance drone and a warrantless wiretap are involved.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:32 PM on August 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


Thinking about the last time I heard anything about the PG police department I'm pretty glad they were wasting their time with this; there's much worse stuff they could be doing.

Also, holy shit, I can't believe that was two years ago.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:34 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bridgeport is his stop? Bridgeport is my stop! Where do you live, David?
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 6:35 PM on August 2, 2012


So, fuck Gizmodo, fuck David Pogue, fuck the iPhone, fuck the Prince George's County police department, fuck Twitter, fuck the internet, fuck everything, whatever.

I know how you feel, I was press ganged into an impromptu iPhone search party in a bar and after about 20 minutes peering under tables I was cursing Steve Jobs, the bastards who invented the cell phone and the radio spectrum itself.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:37 PM on August 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


These Premises Are Alarmed, you should reive his phone away again and mail him pieces, accompanied by mocking notes, every year on this day.
posted by winna at 6:38 PM on August 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yes, David is famous. Get over it.

I know right? I was soooo jealous when I saw those pics of David clubbing with George Clooney and Channing Tatum but I'm so over it now.
posted by MikeMc at 6:40 PM on August 2, 2012


Fighting the iCrime Wave: Device theft has exploded. New solutions are on the way. Is the industry doing enough about 'Apple picking'?
posted by homunculus at 6:46 PM on August 2, 2012


The police kept searching the area indicated by Find My iPhone — and eventually they found the phone in the backyard, in the grass, safe and sound.

Because they would do this for any citizen.

Way back when Ashton Kutcher hit 1,000,000 followers I did a bit of data wankery. I did a sampling of his current followers. I decided I had to go back a month, since many of his current followers (like the ones from that day) might be spammers that just hadn't been booted yet.

I clicked on some 30,000 profiles (this was a lot easier to do back then, since clicking a profile didn't just open it in a pop-up window like it does now). Using various non-scientific methods I did my best to determine how many of these people were real people. Like, does the URL in the profile actually go to a personal site or some scammy SEO site? Are the tweets real or markov generated? IS there a profile picture? Is the account older than a month old?

I had a whole slew of things I was using to judge people. Nothing was a direct strike, but I think I got pretty good as figuring out which were real and which were shills. A staggering 2/3s were complete crap accounts.

If it were as easy to do these days I'd like to run this same test on Pouge. I bet he'd score higher, but probably not by a lot.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:54 PM on August 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


"So, fuck Gizmodo, fuck David Pogue, fuck the iPhone, fuck the Prince George's County police department, fuck Twitter, fuck the internet, fuck everything, whatever."

Pogue MiPhone!
posted by markkraft at 7:00 PM on August 2, 2012 [11 favorites]


Who?
posted by blaneyphoto at 7:01 PM on August 2, 2012


Then who was thief?

It's not Brian Lam, is it? I hope it's Brian Lam.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:02 PM on August 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


Is the industry doing enough about 'Apple picking'?

"Apple Jacking" sounds so much more badass.
posted by MikeMc at 7:03 PM on August 2, 2012 [10 favorites]


P. G. County, where dreams become reality.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 7:03 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


> So, fuck Gizmodo, fuck David Pogue, fuck the iPhone, fuck the Prince George's County police department, fuck Twitter, fuck the internet, fuck everything, whatever.

Best cover of Ministry's Stigmata ever!
posted by cjorgensen at 7:08 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I lost my HTC Sensation 4G in April. I demand that everyone on MetaFilter come to Indianapolis and find my phone! Nobody sleeps until I get my phone back!
posted by double block and bleed at 7:09 PM on August 2, 2012


Whew. Thank God PG County has so little crime that the police were able to devote resources to this.
posted by schmod at 7:19 PM on August 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yesterday some rich asshole got out of his shiny new SUV to punch me in the eye because he didn't like me rapping on the side of his car as he barreled through a crosswalk full of people at speed in total disregard of the "Stop for pedestrians" sign smack in between the lanes.

How does the other guy look?
posted by Tanizaki at 7:37 PM on August 2, 2012


I could have used service like this when I lost my brand-spanking-new Nokia E61 at a park in Clearwater back in 2006. I seriously had had it less than a month. It was tragic. First phone I ever had that had WiFi, Flash, and a web browser that could actually display modern web pages.
posted by wierdo at 7:41 PM on August 2, 2012


Ha. This reminds me of when the Chief of the Berkeley Department's son's iphone was stolen.
posted by latkes at 8:04 PM on August 2, 2012


Isn't David Pogue MeFi's own?
posted by MoonOrb at 8:26 PM on August 2, 2012


I worked with Pogue on a project for a few weeks about 15 years ago. I was and am a huge Apple fanboy and had a load of fun building a fairly new concept into reality, but man was that guy full of himself. I knew the name and could tell he knew his stuff, but didn't really know how big of a deal I was supposed to think he was. He took some offense to me treating him like I would anyone else I was working with. I have some level of respect for the guy but he really rubbed me the wrong way.

The other guy I was working on the project with was Harry Connick, Jr. who (to me anyway) had every right to have a big head and think you should know who he is. He could not possibly have been nicer and treated everyone very well. I've heard he has a big ego, but I sure didn't see it then. The two of them were odd to work with together.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 8:31 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Then who was thief?
"No one is under arrest. It's not even clear a crime was committed. It's not unusual for a citizen to call the department and say they've lost their phone and ask police to find it based on the pings. What's pretty rare is to actually get the phone back."
posted by unliteral at 8:34 PM on August 2, 2012


This is cool but also seems like a weird/sizable waste of law enforcement resources?--liketitanic

Police like to catch crooks. Your car broken into? Having the police come out would be a waste of time because the theif is long gone. But in this case, the police knew roughly where the property was and there was a way of making it identify itself (with a loud beep). And, indeed, the phone was recovered.

Do you know how infrequently stolen property is recovered?

And if someone punches you, get his picture, get his license. Give the police something to go on, or take the guy to court yourself.
posted by eye of newt at 8:39 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Actually we don't know if there was a thief, and the police won't say so without evidence, but we can speculate that his phone didn't walk far away to a strange place all by itself.
posted by eye of newt at 8:42 PM on August 2, 2012


Do you know how infrequently stolen property is recovered?

Yeah, which is why I would expect a public servant to give up after an hour.
posted by liketitanic at 8:50 PM on August 2, 2012


Pogue MiPhone!

That would take a lot of rum and lashes.
posted by Nomyte at 8:51 PM on August 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


A staggering 2/3s were complete crap accounts.

I always assumed that was about the norm for Twitter followers. I know about half of the ones I accumulated with my sporadic output were garbage, and I'm sure it's worse for famous people.
posted by mediareport at 9:05 PM on August 2, 2012


... I think I got pretty good as figuring out which were real and which were shills. A staggering 2/3s were complete crap accounts.

That's why I'm a ruthless blocker on twitter. I don't let this shit get out of hand.

I have 3 followers.
posted by vidur at 9:58 PM on August 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'd have liked the story more if his 1.4 million twitter followers had started a viral campaign to steal the rest of his stuff.
posted by iotic at 11:32 PM on August 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


The police kept searching the area indicated by Find My iPhone — and eventually they found the phone in the backyard, in the grass, safe and sound.
Because they would do this for any citizen.


Is the implication here that the cops actually know who this jackass is?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:36 AM on August 3, 2012


Wait, where exactly do the Twitter followers come in, other than notifying Gizmodo, HERE TO SAVE THE DAY! ?

Also I lost my Kindle on an American Airlines flight two months ago, I do hope that's the next thing on The Internet's agenda!
posted by estlin at 1:03 AM on August 3, 2012


God damn. When my iPhone was stolen by a pickpocket in a restaurant in London (within sight of Scotland Yard) I tracked it immediately to a house in East London, mapped it, and got some phone numbers the thief had called.

My first stop was walking into the police station, where they didn't want to talk to me at all. Second was phone the police, who weren't interested in any more than filing a report assuming I was insured (wasn't). When I asked if they preferred that I recover it myself with a crowbar in hand, they didn't want to know.

I then realised just how crap the ecosystem is for dealing with this. IMEI numbers can only be blocked in certain countries, there is no way to stop the thief from wiping and factory resetting the phone (even if you remote lock it). And there is barely a way to get Apple to acknowledge that a thief has the phone, nor to get itunes not to deal with that hardware number. Apple have even in a few cases replaced stolen ipads for thiefs at the genius bar, then declined to help the actual owners when they turned up

There are possible solutions, but the cell phone industry (including apple) are not interested. And why should they be, they sold a second phone.

Meanwhile, both a professional photographer friend and a local mom friend around the corner had phones violently taken from them in street while on the phone.
posted by C.A.S. at 1:06 AM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


That Chris Crowley story is the writing-style equivalent of dentistry in the form of having teeth pulled with pliers.
posted by ambient2 at 1:20 AM on August 3, 2012


> Police like to catch crooks.

Clearly you do not live in New York City or any other part of the United States that rewards cops for low crime statistics. My friend got punched in the face in front of a dozen people, the guy who did it was still there, all the witnesses were still there (selling art in the street), blood was running down his face, and the cops would do nothing.

I was (gently) hit and knocked on my ass by some rich dude in an SUV who drifted through a red light while on the phone. When I got up and slapped the hood of his car, he chased me across Eighth Avenue, right into some cops - who would do nothing, even when I pointed out he'd just stopped his vehicle, still running, in the middle of the street, they wouldn't even fucking talk to the guy and tell him, "I heard you ran a red light, knocked someone over, and then tried to attack him - and we saw you chase him in full rage across a busy street, leaving your car as a violation. Avoid doing this in future."

There's no question that Pogue got this service because he's a rich and influential man.

In fact, all that shitware hardware-level authentication that Apple has put in has every ability to prevent your stolen phone from being used at all. The fact that Apple won't in fact lift a finger to help you indicates that all of that work is entirely used to make life difficult for their paying customers.

You call me when the story is, "Police help poor kid get beloved laptop back from thieves," OK?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 4:35 AM on August 3, 2012 [6 favorites]


It is incredible how uninteresting this story is!

Man loses phone. Finds it in some grass.

I thought I'd never do this again but;


Meh.


Can police be partisan, unresponsive and unhelpful?
Well stone the crows.
I'm just amazed that people seem to think they are anything other.

I thought Metafilter was above blindly propagating virals. I also thought people were a little wiser to the way the world works.
posted by BadMiker at 5:26 AM on August 3, 2012


Well, that phone is no Tina at Devil's Tower, but glad the reporter got it back.
posted by aught at 5:35 AM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can police be partisan, unresponsive and unhelpful?Well stone the crows. I'm just amazed that people seem to think they are anything other.

I thought Metafilter was above blindly propagating virals. I also thought people were a little wiser to the way the world works.


Do you ever get vertigo from being so far above it all?
posted by adamdschneider at 6:05 AM on August 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


Just got open eyes my friend.
Try it sometime.
posted by BadMiker at 6:26 AM on August 3, 2012


I visited NYC with my family earlier this summer. We stopped at a park near the Flatiron to grab something to eat and let my daughter play. Then we hopped on the subway to Chinatown. When we got there, I realized my shopping bag was missing, and that my phone and camera were also in the bag. As I frantically tried to figure out how to track my phone with my husband's phone, kicking myself for being such an idiot, my husband said, "Why don't you just call your phone?" Oh yeah. A man answered and said he had just found my bag sitting next to a park bench. He agreed to wait right there for me while we rode all the way back from Chinatown. When I offered him money for his trouble, he refused to take it and told me to give it to the next homeless person I saw. So that's what I did. Sometimes you don't need technology to get your stuff back...you just need to be lucky enough for a kind person to find it.
posted by Kelly Tulsa at 7:41 AM on August 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


Well, I guess I did use technology, considering I called him with our other phone...but somewhat lower technology than the iPhone tracking wizardry.
posted by Kelly Tulsa at 7:44 AM on August 3, 2012


Crime map for Prince George's County.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:45 AM on August 3, 2012


Yes, David is famous. Get over it.

I know right? I was soooo jealous when I saw those pics of David clubbing with George Clooney and Channing Tatum but I'm so over it now.


Yeah, it's not that he is famous. It is being able to say, "I am a reporter for the New York Times".
posted by mlis at 11:03 AM on August 3, 2012


Also, I remember seeing a tweet on a mefite's profile page that was something like, "Lost my iphone. Cab driver returned it to my apt 6 hours later. Refused reward. New.York.City!"

Always nice to see something like that.
posted by mlis at 11:07 AM on August 3, 2012


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