A Car Break-In and the Power of an iPad App

by Shilpi Paul


In a slight departure from all things residential real estate, I wanted to share a story about gardening, Truxton Circle, a car-break-in and an iPad app that can make us all feel like James Bond.

On Wednesday, my fiance’s mom came to our house in Truxton Circle (the tiny neighborhood squeezed between Shaw and Bloomingdale) from her home in Pennsylvania to give us a gift: a garden. Our front yard had been long neglected and was basically a bed of dry dirt.

She drove up at around 10am, unloaded plants and got to digging. Her car was parked around the corner, in a well-traveled alley just off of 4th Street NW. She had a meeting in the afternoon and hoped to finish the job within a few hours, so she didn’t bring too many things into the house.

In the middle of toiling in our teeny front yard, she heard a car alarm go off. She took a short jog to the car. After walking halfway around the car and taking a quick glance, she didn’t see anything suspicious and headed back to resume gardening, turning off the alarm.

I got home at about 2pm around the time that she was finishing up. Pleased that she still had time to make the meeting, she went out to the car to get her bag and get ready.

Our new garden

Here’s where the day took a turn. The car alarm had been correct — the back passenger window was completely busted and a bag containing an iPad, clothes and important tax papers had been stolen. The thief must have acted quickly, perhaps after she turned off the alarm.

As you can imagine, our happy moods were shattered. We called around in a vain attempt to gain control of the situation, first to the police and then to several glass repair outfits. Dejected, my future mother-in-law canceled the meeting and went home to Pennsylvania, very worried about the papers and sad about her stolen belongings.

However, once at home, she remembered that a tracking application had been installed on her iPad: Find my iPhone.

(Cue the Mission Impossible theme song.)

She logged on, found the location of the iPad, called the police and then things got exciting. She was able to direct the authorities to the exact location of the iPad, which had traveled a couple miles east to Brookland, and was sitting in someone’s house.

With her on the line, the police headed toward the location. They identified the house and she gave them more information: from the application, it looked as though the iPad was in the back of the house. When the police got inside, my fiance’s mom cued the application to make the iPad play a sound. Sure enough, a sound came out of a bag — her bag, still full of all her belongings — in a back room. With solid proof, the cops apprehended the culprits and recovered the bag. We’ll be able to get it all back on Monday.

Needless to say, soon after this incident, I installed the Find my iPhone app on my iPad. Then I went out to water my new garden…and check on my car.

See other articles related to: truxton circle, landscaping, iphone, ipad, find my iphone, crime

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/a_car_break_in_and_the_power_of_an_ipad_app/5356


  1. Jeanne said at 10:44 am on Friday March 30, 2012:

    Fascinating! Installing that app as soon as I get home.

  1. Jose said at 11:00 am on Friday March 30, 2012:

    When I first got my iPhone 4, I used to take it for a jog wearing an armband.  As I was running I noticed it had popped off the case.  I finished my run and once I was home I logged onto my computer and launched the Find my iPhone app.  It told me right where it was.  I drove out there and sure enough, there it was!  I LOVE THAT APP!

  1. Ashley said at 11:37 am on Friday March 30, 2012:

    I used the app to track down my phone to a cab on Capitol Hill.  I think I scared the hell out of his fair when I came running up to his car at 3am.

  1. FastTraffik said at 2:51 pm on Friday March 30, 2012:

    I think that app is installed on the iPhones / iPads by default.  Or it could be installed by default because I am using MobileMe (which is now to become iCloud).  I wonder if the iPhone iPad is turned off, if the app “Find My iPhone” still works?

  1. anon said at 9:32 am on Saturday March 31, 2012:

    Sometimes Big Brother is totally awesome!

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