The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, also referred to as simply “Coachella,” is like this generation’s Woodstock. And in the age of smartphones, every moment is shared on social media (with a filter, of course). It probably wouldn’t take a festivalgoer too long to notice if his or her phone went missing.
Several people did notice, and they used a free app, Find My iPhone, to locate their devices. The app led them straight to the thief!*
According to the local police department, several victims activated the tracking app, and it indicated a man named Reinaldo De Jesus Henao had stolen their phones. They followed him around the venue until he was detained by security. When the Indio Police Department arrived, they arrested Henao for grand theft and possession of stolen property.
They found over 100 phones in Henao’s backpack. Police said they were able to return several phones that night or the following day. The rest were placed into Coachella’s lost and found.
How does Find My iPhone work?
If you lose your phone, you can log into your Apple account from another device and see a map of where your phone is in relation to where you are. As you search, you can play a loud sound to help you find it. You can also send messages that show up on your phone’s lock screen with information for meeting up with the phone’s finder. You can even get driving directions to your phone’s location. But if, for some reason, you can’t get your phone back, you can remotely erase your phone’s content and settings to protect your privacy. Click here to learn more about this app.
There’s an app for Android users, too
Android Device Manager is a free app you can download from the Google Play store. It has most of the same features as Find My iPhone. If you lose your phone, you can log into your Google account from another device and see a map of where it is. You can activate a loud sound that plays for five minutes while you search. You can send a phone number where you can be reached, and it’ll appear on a locked screen. And for privacy, you can remotely wipe your device clean by restoring it to its factory settings. Click here to learn more about this app.
* Please note: The festivalgoers followed the thief around as a group, and the venue was very crowded. It’s a very bad idea to try to retrieve a phone by yourself in an unfamiliar place. One man in Alabama was actually killed while trying to retrieve his stolen phone. Law enforcement officials say to call them instead and let them retrieve the device for you.
The Indio Police also gave some suggestions for preventing theft in general at these types of events:
- Place your wallet and phone in your front pocket instead of your back pocket.
- Consider using decoy wallets and phones to trick thieves and keep them away from your real valuables.
- Don’t keep your ID, money and phone in the same place. If items are spread out, it’s less likely everything will get stolen.