Thief with 20 mobiles stuffed down his trousers tracked down using iPhone app
PUBLISHED September 12, 2012
Ionut Guita, 23, tucked the haul of phones into a pair of tights under his trousers after snatching them from revellers at Sundown music festival near Norwich.
When one of his teenage victims found her iPhone was missing, however, she used a tracking application find the signal emitted by her phone, which showed it had been taken to a McDonald's restaurant one mile away.
The 16-year-old and her friend called the police, who entered the restaurant at Longwater business park and dialled her phone.
The officers then tracked the phone to the thief's trousers, where they heard it ringing.
Upon searching Guita, the officers discovered 19 other mobile phones which he had stolen from the two-day festival and tucked into tights under his trousers.
Guita, who has no fixed address but comes from Stratford, east London, pleaded guilty to 20 counts of thefts when he appeared before Norwich magistrates and also admitted committing offences while subject to a suspended sentence order.
He was remanded in custody to be sentenced later at Norwich Crown Court.
The Sundown festival at Norfolk Showground attracted 25,000 partygoers and boasted a line-up that included Katy B, Pixie Lot, Wiley and Sub Focus.
Olly Murs and Chase and Status headlined the festival, which was held over the first weekend of September.
Detective Sergeant Vicky Flatt of Norfolk Police said: "We know these types of events get targeted by thieves, which this case demonstrates.
"Festivals are ideal hunting grounds for thieves because people in large crowds are less likely to notice a pick-pocket or someone tampering with their bag.
"The victim was able to let police know where she believed her phone to be, having activated an app she had installed which tracked the handset.
"We would recommend people take steps to protect and secure their property, and tracking applications can play a part in this as well as registering your mobile at immobilise.com, making a note of your IMEI number and backing up your contacts and files."
She added: "We carried out a lot of work prior to and during the event targeting festival goers with safety and security advice which we hope will have gone some way to preventing further offences."
Tracking applications have become a staple of smartphones, and are installed by users to locate the expensive devices in the event that they are stolen.
The Apple-made Find My iPhone app has been available on the company's phones since 2009, enabled on the phone's settings.
To track down a lost or stolen iPhone, users log on to a website that locates the phone using a mix of GPS, Wi-Fi and cell tower data.
The phone's location is then shown on a map, and the app also allows the phone's owner to remotely lock the iPhone or remotely erase its contents.