China / Innovation

Anti-theft app snaps, sends photo of suspect

By Zheng Xin (China Daily) Updated: 2012-06-05 07:56

A young mother is hoping that an anti-theft iPhone app can help her retrieve precious pictures of her baby stored on a stolen cell phone.

Xie Danhong, 33, said she dropped her phone in a taxi during a business trip to Beijing on Thursday and feared she had lost all the photographs and video clips she made of her 9-month-old daughter with it.

However, just six hours later, the iPhone automatically sent her a picture of the suspected thief - thanks to iGotYa.

The app snaps anyone who tries to unlock the phone using an incorrect password and then e-mails that photo to the rightful owner's registered e-mail address.

"I immediately recognized the guy in the picture, as the driver of the taxi that day," said Xie, who works in advertising sales in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province.

She posted the picture, along with the driver number and taxi's license plate on Sina Weibo, China's answer to Twitter, on Friday, and also reported the case to police in Beijing's Haidian district.

"If the thief wants the phone, he can have it," Xie said, "but the contacts and pictures it contains are really important to me. I have no backup."

Zhao Junfeng, a police officer in Haidian said the case is under investigation and Xie will receive an update on Tuesday.

IGotYa requires people to "jailbreak" their iPhones, which means they are released from Apple's strict download restrictions.

Xie is not the first smartphone user to be helped by the app. Huang Zongce, 28, from Guiyang, capital of Guizhou province, said he found his iPhone just two hours after he lost it in a taxi on April 30 thanks to iGotYa.

With the information sent to his inbox, he tracked his iPhone to a family home and eventually got it back after negotiating.

"I wasn't really worried when I lost it," Huang said. "I know my phone is well protected."

IGotYa is one of many anti-theft applications available for download by smartphone users.

Ren Wei, a Beijing hairdresser, said he uses security guard software that informs him of his phone's position once the simcard is taken out, as well as sounds an alarm.

"Technology is playing a more significant role today in fighting crime," said attorney Yi Shenghua at Yingke Law Firm in Beijing.

However, he warned that users run the risk of defamation if they go online to accuse someone captured on a smartphone camera before they are confirmed by police as the thief.

"The person in the picture may just have been attempting to find out who the phone belonged to," Yi said, adding that the best option is still contacting the police.

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