7 On Your Side

Union City woman claims app didn't help get iPhone back

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Last year, according to Consumer Reports, an estimated 1.6 million smartphones were stolen in this country and one frustrated iPhone owner is saying Apple is part of the problem.

Apple released its "Find My iPhone" app in 2010 to good reviews, but a Union City woman says not only did the app not work the way she expected, but thieves were able to thwart it.

Denise Gomez of Union City remembers with fondness her years at Bishop O'Dowd High School in Oakland. Her friends all got together recently in Portland for the wedding of one of her best friends from high school. Unfortunately, the trip took a sour turn.

"While we were out, I got pick pocketed. Somebody took my iPhone out of my pocket," said Denise Gomez, a Union City resident.

Gomez immediately activated her "Find My iPhone Alert" and posted a message on her phone asking anyone who found it to call her. She never received that call, but she heard from Apple getting a confirmation that her phone had been repaired at an Apple store the day after it was stolen.

She suspects the thief managed to disable the "Find My iPhone" features by taking it to an Apple store and having one of the technicians there wipe the phone clean, including the "Find My iPhone" feature.

"That's a miserable failure on the company's part. The company of course knows how to do this a lot better," said Joe Ridout from Consumer Action.

Ridout says all smartphone manufacturers should do more to thwart the use of stolen phones and he's not alone. San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon has been pressuring Apple, Samsung and other manufacturers to make a stolen phone impossible to use. Both companies have come up with a kill switch that would deactivate the phone if it is lost or stolen. Hopefully, the system will prove effective, but it'll be too late for Gomez.

"We believe a technological solution is the best answer to this problem. We want to remove the market value of this item as a stolen item," said Gascon.

And there's a good reason for that. Gascon says half of the robberies in San Francisco involve smartphones. Thieves are snatching them on streets, aboard Muni buses. If you are holding a smartphone you are vulnerable. Gomez can't say for certain Apple techs wiped the phone clean. The thieves could have done it themselves, but she does know Apple worked on her phone after it was stolen.

"They didn't even verify my identity or the person who brought it in," said Denise Gomez of Union City.

Apple declined the opportunity for an on camera interview or to issue a statement to 7 On Your Side.

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Tags:
apple, iphone, crime, union city, apps, 7 on your side, michael finney
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