How I recovered my stolen iPhone within 40 hours!

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I usually don’t blog and seldom write reviews on stuff but iCaughtU Pro deserves this testimonial!

The short story:

My phone was stolen from me one Saturday night. I had the perp’s photo and location of his home. I gave this information to police but was told that it would take weeks before an investigator would be able to do anything meaningful. Thanks to a program called iCaughtU Pro, my iPhone was returned within 40 hours!

The background story:

My iPhone has a program called iCaughtU Pro installed, it is only available for jailbroken phones.

iCaughtU Pro is a program that will aid in the recovery of your lost or stolen iPhone. The program works best when a passcode has been enabled on the phone. When an incorrect passcode is entered, the program will take a front-facing photo of the person holding your device, record the location of the phone, time and date. All this information is emailed to the email address you put into iCaughtU Pro. The program can also send a text message alert to any mobile phone number you set and have a pop-up message of your choice come on screen when an incorrect passcode is entered.

The phone also has Fake Mode which will allow the phone to “unlock” with an incorrect passcode, iCaughtU Pro will then execute all the above actions before informing the unauthorised user their identity has been compromised. Fake Mode allows you to password lock any program on the device so the unauthorised user is unable to peruse your personal data or uninstall iCaughtU Pro!

Another awesome feature is SMS commands. This allows you to set specific commands in iCaughtU Pro which will be executed when the phone receives them by SMS. These SMS commands can be sent from any phone in the world. SMS commands are able to:

  • Lock the device
  • Power down device
  • Reboot device
  • Delete personal data
  • Show a text alert
  • Play an alarm
  • Toggle the music player
  • Take photos from your phone
    • From either the front or rear camera, then emails you the photo to the email address you set in iCaughtU Pro
  • Send location to the phone that sent the SMS
  • Send location to the e-mail address in iCaughtU Pro’s settings

The best thing about iCaughtU Pro is the location provided is much more accurate than Apple’s Find My iPhone feature. In my testing there is very little or no lag in the location. Find My iPhone is unable to obtain the correct location unless you are in the one spot for an extended period of time, usually it reports a location within a few kilometers of my actual location or a location I was at sometime earlier.

For the story below, I didn’t have a proper passcode on my device so all the information provided by iCaughtU Pro were through SMS commands. Refer to the end of the blog for detailed screenshots of how I currently have my iCaughtU Pro configured.

The not so short story:

I was out one Saturday night and got fairly drunk. I ended up getting a taxi home at about 3am. First thing Sunday morning I realised I didn’t have my phone, I called it but there was no answer. I thought I must’ve dropped it near or in the bar so I sent an SMS from Skype to locate the phone. Find My iPhone showed my phone was 20km out of town, I didn’t want to believe it so I sent a command for the phone to take a photo and also SMS’d “Hi there, I’ve lost my phone and I’d appreciate if you could assist with returning it. Please contact me on ‘my email’ or call ‘my home phone’. Cheers”.

In the meantime I received my first email from iCaughtU which confirmed my phone was 20km out of town and a photo of a stranger. The address provided shows Find My iPhone was off by a hundred metres.

So I sent commands for more photos and location, which gave me a few more photos of the guy and his mate.

By this stage I knew I had enough evidence to provide police. I still had not been contacted by the guys in possession of my phone so it didn’t seem like they were making much effort to return it.

My next SMS stated “I would also like to inform you that your photo and location has been emailed to me. If I am not contacted within 24hrs I will forward this information to police. Kind regards, Andrew” followed by an SMS which actually had their address, a description of the person in the photos to show I was not bluffing and another request for my phone back.

I continued to send more commands before I remotely wiped my phone (using both iCaughtU Pro and Find My iPhone just to be sure). I called Telstra to suspend and lock my SIM and phone. 

In the meantime I found out on Facebook they had called and sent messages to a number of my friends at 3am saying they had stolen my phone and making racist comments.

… the message sent to my girlfriend:

I visited the police station and gave all the relevant details (including my phone records with calls made to their friends) as part of my statement. The officer informed me that it would take a number of weeks before my file would be formally investigated by a police officer, even though I had all the evidence. I acknowledge, in the whole scheme of things, my stolen iPhone was not a priority for police. Still I was hoping that it would be easy enough for them to quickly visit these guys after a few days considering all the evidence was essentially there.

I returned home feeling angry my privacy had been violated, that I had evidence but police would be very slow to act. My phone had plenty of personal and private information and it was my fault for not having the phone fully secured. I was worried that the guys might have taken down my address and other sensitive information. 

Monday came around and still I hadn’t received an email from the guys, nor were there any messages left on the answering machine when I checked remotely. I decided that my phone was unlikely to be recovered by police and accepted it as an expensive lesson for not getting phone insurance. 

I bought a new iPhone on the way home from work and began setting it up. My younger brother came into my room, saw my iPhone and asked “Did you find your phone?” to which I replied “Nope, I bought a new one”. He proceeded to inform me that someone had left a message on the answering machine, which I promptly dismissed as a cruel joke!

As it turns out, it wasn’t….

A lawyer had left a message stating my phone had been handed in and was able to be picked up! Well you can guess how I felt!

Happy ending:

Thanks to Itay, iCaughtU Pro’s developer, for facilitating the return of my iPhone in 40 hours! This is seriously a wicked program which is definitely worth more than the paltry $2.50 you need to pay for the Pro version!

I decided to keep the new iPhone. A search on eBay did not demonstrate a clear price premium on new iPhones compared to those that were only a few months old. My friend ended up buying my old iPhone for a good price; in the end I was only out of pocket by about $200 bucks rather than $1008!!! I am sending Itay $50 to thank him for his excellent work!

Lessons learned:

1) Get phone insurance unless your phone’s outright cost is fairly reasonable.

2) Always have the phone on the most secure setting, even if it takes more time to get into the phone for simple stuff like opening notifications from the lock screen (an issue for me as I previously didn’t have LockInfo on the highest security setting). If you keep as much personal stuff on your phone as I do, you’ll hate the feeling that your privacy has been violated by a stranger going through all your photos, videos, messages, calendar, phone book, and programs.

Screenshots of iCaughtU Pro in action (testing on my current iPhone):

(Btw, ignore the above time. Took the screenshot again while my phone wasn’t connected to USB)

My current iCaughtU Pro Settings:

More information:

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