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GPS Helped Us Find Our Stolen Phone

I'm about tell a story about the benefit of having the GPS feature on a cell phone.  The cell phones in our house all have this feature - really for no other reason than I am a fan of iPhones.  iPhones (and most Androids I believe) have GPS. 

For years, I have pondered the benefit of the GPS feature of cell phones. 
 
On one hand, I like being able to use the GPS feature - if I happen to set my phone down and then forget where I put it!   (Yes, this happens more than I will ever admit!)   I also like knowing my teenage son has this feature.  If he misplaces his phone, we have a chance of finding it!   (My husband is one of those ridiculous people who always knows where his phone is.)
 
On the other hand, I don't like that there is a feature on my phone that keeps track of where I am.  I find this a bit creepy.  There have been times when I intentionally turned off the GPS feature simply because I was unnerved at the thought of someone tracking me.
 
 
I Started Getting Data Max Emails
 
A few weeks ago, I was sitting at work - working.  Suddenly, I receive an email from AT&T saying my 13 year old son's data plan maxed out and that I was being charged $20 for more data.  Furious (he is not allowed to use any data on his phone) I call my son.  He doesn't answer.  I can't reach my husband either. 
 
I attempt to continue working.
 
An hour later, I receive two more emails saying that more data was used on my son's phone.  $20 dollars worth of data - and then $20 more - was charged.  I call and then text my son.  No response.  To prevent more data from being used, I go to the AT&T web site and discontinue cell phone service.
 
I call my husband again;  he finally answers.  
 
My husband talks to (well, yells at) my son.  My son - I hear his frantic voice over the phone - says that he has not been using his phone - his phone is gone.
 
He can't find it. 
 
 
Lost or Stolen Phone
 
Extemely concerned, I log into iCloud (the web site for Apple gadget users).  iCloud shows the status of all of our phones, including my son's phone.
 
Clear as day, the name of the phone was changed from my son's name to the name of the boy at our house the previous afternoon.  My son's friend.
 
I immediately look at the GPS map.  The GPS Map on the phone says Offline.
 
Quickly  (via lightening-speed Google searches) I learn that if you discontinue cell service on your phone, the GPS feature stops working on the phone.  So I go back to the AT&T web site and reactivate the phone.
 
The GPS map now works. The phone shows that it's located in the area of my house.  (Keep in mind, I'm at work.)
 
Confused, I set off the iPhone lost phone alarm.   Even if the phone is on silent mode, the lost phone alarm makes a very loud noise.  Someone at our house will hear it.
 
 
At Our House
 
When I set off the alarm, my son's friend was coincidentally at our door.   He came to pick up the football cleats he forgot at our house from the day before. 
 
 "Ryan, do you have my son's phone?"   My husbands asks.  ("Ryan" is a fake name of course.)
 
"No."  Ryan said.  "Can I get my cleats?"
 
"Ryan, the GPS shows that you have the phone and that you changed the phone to your name."   My husband continues and he is upset.
 
Ryan looks paler.  "No, I don't have the phone and I don't know where it is. Can I just get my cleats? "
 
At this point, the lost phone alarm goes off in Ryan's pocket.  The alarm goes off right in front of my son and my husband.
 
The color leaves Ryan's face.  
 
He pulls out my son's phone.
 
"Is this the phone you are looking for?"  Ryan says.  "I found it - I didn't know whose it was - and I  decided to keep it!   Now can I get my cleats? "   Ryan gives the phone to my husband - gets his cleats - and leaves our house. 
 
The phone in my husband's hand now has a new background and a new password we don't know. (Easy things to fix.)  We have the phone back.
 
 
Final
 
Some of the things we've learned from this event:
 
*   The GPS feature on cell phones is a good thing and may have saved my son from a permanentally stolen phone. 
 
*   We are lucky.  This kid was in front of us when the lost phone alarm went off in his pocket.  How likely is that?
 
*  Password protect your phones!  Doing this would have saved us from the $60 data fee charged to us while our stolen phone was gone. (Ironically, I never allowed my son to password protect his phone before - thinking he was keeping things from us if he did.)
 
*  That day - my son learned a sad lesson about human character and "friendship".  
 
*  One day my son (all of us actually) will look back on this event and have a crazy story to tell.
 
 

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