יום שבת, 17 בנובמבר 2012

The wonders of AndroidLost

This is a true story about a stolen phone, about tracking it in cyber space, about a computer geek father that won't let go and about brave young people... - sounds interesting? read on!

But first here's the picture of my daughter - now isn't she happy now that she got her phone back?




Friday 2/Nov/2012 10:17 a.m. Herzliya, Freescale Semiconductor's office

I am in the office, working. I get this SMS from my daughter Donna "Daddy, this is urgent, my phone was stolen!". I call back, she was on her way back from the army, she was switching busses at the Israeli central bus station, this place is full of emigrants from Africa and Eastern Asia. One of them took her Galaxy S2 phone from its pouch without her noticing. 

Half a year back when I gave her the phone she agreed to share with me her location using Google Latitude. Using this location I could track her and she could track me. I openned the web page latitude.google.com and looked - last location was in the middle of route 4 on her way home. 

Using skype I called her number throgh skkype - no reply - the thief must have switched the sims.

Dang.


Friday 2/Nov/2012 10:51 a.m. Herzliya, Freescale Semiconductor's office

I notice the green camera next to Donna's name in gmail. The guy must be using the phone right now. I send him a friendly message "how much money do you want so that you return the phone to my daughter". I am being ignore. I start a Google Hangout, I know how it sounds on her phone, no way the thief doesn't hear this. I am being ignored and after a while the green dot becomes grey. 

The next two days I don't see any sign of life, no green dot, no latitude - I tell my daughter, yea that's it, he probably did a factory reset - hasta la vista....


Sunday 4/Nov/2012 11:24 a.m. Herzliya, Freescale Semiconductor's office

I get this monthly mail telling me to fill my missmatches and absence days. Where was I last month on the 17'th. As usual I go to  Google Latitude to tell me the story - Since my history is enabled I can know where I was at any point in my life. Much to my surprise I notice that Donna's latitude is alive and the phone is located right now right at the center of that infamous Tel Aviv Central bus station - in a street called Neve Shaanan - this street used to be THE street where we would go buy shoes back in the good old days, but now it's a different world full of emigrants and if you go there, then you are the only white guy (well unless you are black... that is). It's there - whoever bought this phone is probably trying to sell it. 

Yariv, my son, gets into the picture, he goes to Neve Shaanan... so many barber shops and every barber shop has a barber and phones for sale. It goes together - like fish & chips, like a car wash and a Deli. He actually took the courage and asked them if there's a galaxy S2 for sale... the nerd :) They look up at him, slowwwlly and then say 'No'...

I call the police, they say if I provide them with a 2m x 2m location and I wait for them there - then they come... I give up - It just doesn't make sense to me that the police arrive there with their blue uniforms and start asking all the black people if they saw a black person holding a stolen phone - I mean there are thousands of black people holding stolen phones there!



Monday 5/Nov/2012 10:00 p.m. Home

The suspect moved a few streets but is still in that infamous zone, in Yesod Hamaala Street - it's 10:00 p.m. - he's probably having some good time there - a night out with my daghter's phone in his hand - a phone that I paid 1000$ for with my hard earned money.




Tuesday 6/Nov/2012 4:30 p.m. Herzliya, Freescale Semiconductor's office

The phone is in Ben-Avigdor Street Tel-Aviv. Now that is new! What is he doing there? Is this where he lives?




Wednesday 7/Nov/2012 8:39 a.m. Herzliya, Freescale Semiconductor's office

The phone is back to the central base station zone in 13 Hasharon street Tel-Aviv. How did it get there? Donna gives me her gmail password - I log into her account and turn on her latitude's history. I want to see when is it that the guy moves from Ben-Avigdor to Hasharon. Where does he live and where does he work?




Wednesday 7/Nov/2012 2:45 p.m. Herzliya, Freescale Semiconductor's office

The guy is back to  Ben-Avigdor street!! So is he back from work or going to work? Is he working?


Wednesday 7/Nov/2012 7:00 p.m. Ben-Avigdor St

I am right where he is - I turned off my latitude location such that he won't be able to see that I am next to him. The dot is indicating a specific building - but this is a huge building with 3 floors and several venues - maybe 20 families live here. How can I nail down this specific person? Next to the building there's Avigdor - where a wedding ceremony is being held. Could it be that this person works here? I follow some people going out of the building. And as I follow them - the latitude still indicates that it's not them. I return home, frustrated.


Thursday 8/Nov/2012 2:15 a.m. Home

I look at the history of the Latitude - the guy just moved from Ben-Avigdor to Hanegev Street. OK - now that makes sense - he works in Ben-Avigdor and he sleeps in the Negev Street.



Thursday 8/Nov/2012 6 p.m. Central Station Tel Aviv

I cycle to the Tel-Aviv's central station area, I wonder the streets, looking, looking, looking.... there are so many phones for sale here. The place is like a second world, a country within a country full mostly of hard working emigrants 



Thursday 8/Nov/2012 8:15

I read on the internet about a wonderful application that you can install to the phone AFTER it has already been stolen. The application is called AndroidLost. Using this application one can see the location of the phone, can retrieve last calls from the phone, and even snap a picture. for the full features list go here. Downloading this application to one's android is easy. All I need to do is loggin to Donna's Google account, go to Google Android's application store and download AndoroidLost. But in order for the application to work it should first of all register with google. For that it's required that you send the application an SMS. But I don't know the phone number of this guy - I mean he replaced the sim! What then? For that there's yet another application called AndroidLost JumpStart. Once this application is installed - it can trigger the registration of AndroidLost without SMS under specific conditions, for example: low battery, sim replacement, when a call is being made, etc. 



Friday 8/Nov/2012 Morning. Derech Haagana Tel-Aviv

I notice that the phone is at Derech Haagana - I rush over there and spend there two hours looking for the guy. Later I realize that my phone's Google Latitude was not updated - and actually half an hour before I reached the place - the guy already left. 


Friday 8/Nov/2012 5:19 p.m. . Home

I phone was in the area of the central bus station all afternoon and evening. At this point in time it's located in Arlinger Street where some hookers are located. 


That place with the heavy urine smell, this is where my daughter's phone is visiting.


Saturday 10/Nov/2012 4:30 a.m. . Home

I am astonished to find out that my daughter's phone has moved to Ashdod, around 40 Km to the south of Israel to Shavey Zion Street at the corner of Sderot Herzel



And I was even more astonished to find out that the AndroidLost is now registered with Google and I was able to start exploring the phone. I didn't want to send too many requests - in order not to be stuck on a bug. So what i did on that earlly saturday morning was merely to retrieve the telephone status from which I learned that the phone number belongs to orange.


Saturday 10/Nov/2012 10  a.m. . Home

Then I downloaded the 20 last calls from which I learned that using Orange exit number 018 + the Sudan international number - the guy was calling his home country - several numbers there... so the guy is from Sudan. I openned Wiki and learned that these people were going through Genocide and many lost their home and emigrated. In Israel they are concentrated in the Tel Aviv's Central bus station area, In Ashdod and in Arad. So now I was sure - I am dealing with a guy from Sudan. He might not even be the thief, he could be the one buying it but frankly I don't care - I just want my phone back 



I decide to take a picture of the suspect - I use a neat feature of AndroidLost according to which I send a message and once he presses OK - then it snaps a picture. And Oooops - it seems like I woke up the guy - sooo-oo--rrry


Now isn't he just a small cute little baby? 

I send yet another message, the same one "Low direct memory access" - and this time the guy is kind of worried. You can see in the picture the curiosity mixed with wonder of a young african male


Curiosity is a good thing, and yes the guy is quite handsome - but still - he's HOLDING in his hands MY PHONE!!!

So using AndroidLost I set a nice little server on my daughter's phone and started browsing around. I went to the sdcard into the photos. He erased all the thousands of my daughters pictures for heavens sake. You see? In order to be the owner of the phone you have to replace the sim, and erase the previous pictures. But the most important thing - detaching the phone from Donna's google account? nah - ... that's not important...

Anyway I was looking at pictures that he took few days before. So this one was taken on Sunday 4/Nov/2012







And this picture was taken on 6/Nov/2012




Now this is my type of a guy....

and here's yet another one - 


Now isn't he adorable? What do you say girls?

So when it was noon and while our suspect was having his sathurday noon's rest while locking his eyes at the phone




By the way using Android lost one can take a snap shot of what this guy is looking at... I am serious - you could set a server on his phone and then browse his SD card for the screen snapshots.

Any way - I called my daugther, Donna and told her that the guy is in Ashdod and that I know how he looks and asked if it makes sense for her to go.

Donna is a very optimistic girl, she immediately agreed and said that it's a great opportunity for us to catch this guy and get her phone back. 


Saturday 10/Nov/2012 6 p.m. . Home

And so on sathurday around 6 p.m. both Donna and her boy friend Omer visited the Ashdod police. They asked the police to join them and check that building, go up floor by floor and look for the guy but the police refused, said it was illegal. The police gave them a direct phone number and told them that if they see the guy then they should go.

Omer and Donna went to that house near Sderot Herzl and wait. Omer was close to the building's entrance while Donna was at the back.

Meanwhile I managed to take yet another picture just to make sure that the guy is there



OK,

At some point I decided to try to record the guy but got no response. I called Donna 

"Daddy Omer says he identified the guy going out from the house into Herzl Street, he's with a friend. Three more people went out of the house and I am after them".

I couldn't connect to the phone any more. I called Omer:

"What's up Omer?"

"I am quite sure it's him, He's with 3 other guys, I am on the other side of the road, wait they are now crossing the street towards me, let me look at him to make sure it really him, I want to see his face, I have to hang, bye"

Then I called again to Omer 

"What's up?"

"Do you by chance see where he is?"

"yes he's in Hahalutz street"

"Hahalutz? Are you sure? Don't you see Herzl street?"

"Oh yes yes of course that's the big street yes"

"And do you by chance see a shopping center there?"

"oh yes, yea, right!"

"OK then I am positive I identified him I am calling the police"

I called Donna 

"Honey the people you are following are the wrong people - run now on Herzl street to the south honey".

The I called Donna again

"Omer says they went on a bus, and the police,... oh here they are chugging along"

"oh ok good good".

Then there was a disconnect.

After which Donna Called 

"Daddy, they caught him, I saw him, it's him, the police stopped the bus and took him out - he was shocked, absolutely shocked how in the world out of no where cops are arresting him"....



Well it's not an original pic here but you get the point....  :)

Later I asked Omer how things rolled and he told me that he could identify the guy going out of that building cause he was wearing the same white shirt that was in the picture. His 3 friends were accompanying him as they were going down the Herzl street to the Ashdod central bus station. They were going into the adjacent mall, looking for clothes and stuff and then they departed, the other 3 went back to their home while the guy climbed on the bus. Omer was inside the mall watching the bus closely. When the bus was about to leave and the police didn't arrive, he stpped on the bus and as he was on the stairs he got this call from the police woman telling him to stop the bus. He asked the driver to stop and the bus driver complied reluctantly. Then when the police came, he went with them inside the bus and pointed at the shocked guy. They searched him, searched his sitting place, found the phone and took him to the police station. Later they were told he was taken by the police back to Tel-Aviv.

And at the police station everybody cheered and congractulationed the two kids...

And a happy end to our story :)

Hope you enjoyed,

Till next time,

Aviel.

4 תגובות:

  1. Great story, thanks for sharing! I just installed Android Lost myself, and so it's nice to know that the app works exactly as intended.

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  2. his place is full of emigrants from Africa and Eastern Asia. One of them took her Galaxy S2 phone from its pouch without her noticing. ""-Great story. However, this sentence reveals much about you.

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  3. Hi, very interesting post thanks for sharing. Would you please consider adding a link to my website on your page ? Please email me back. Thanks!

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    randydavis387 at gmail.com

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