How Google+ Helped Me Find And Recover My Stolen Mobile Phone

This week we welcome guest blogger Amy Stewart, Manager of Social Media Strategy for Intouch Solutions & author of great Kansas City-focused blog at beyondtheplazalights.com. Amy also tweets at @amylynnstewart, so be sure to check out her blog & twitter account. Thanks to Amy for sharing her great story!

This is a story about a social-media savvy woman who left her cell phone in a cab and thought she’d never see it again, but thanks to the Google+ app and a few mis-steps by the cab driver she was able to play detective and obtain the missing phone. Here’s where the story begins:

  • Friday, July 8: Receive Google+ invitation and added app to my phone I finally receive a Google+ invitation, but am not that impressed once I sign up. I mean, sure, it’s Google. It’s clean. It’s simple. It incorporates all of my other Google “products” like Buzz and Picasa. I like it, but am slightly underwhelmed. “What does it do that Facebook doesn’t?” I wonder as I download the app on to my phone.
  • Thursday, July 21: Lose my cell phone I go out with friends, take Yellow Cab #957 home, and in true Amy fashion, leave my cell phone in the cab.  I call Yellow Cab several times over the next few days with hopes of finding my phone. Each time I am told that the cab driver will call me if he finds it. By Sunday, I have given up hope, so I log on to Sprint.com and order a new phone that is delivered a few days later.
  • Thursday, July 28: Find picture on Google+ that was taken from my lost/stolen cell phone I’m updating my circles on Google+ and come across a new photo uploaded from my phone, yet I had not taken any pictures with my new phone. Needless to say, I am totally freaked out.
This photo, taken from my stolen phone, appeared in my Google+ stream

This photo, taken from my stolen phone, appeared in my Google+ stream

By this time, I had activated my new phone. So why was my old phone still connected to my account and how was it uploading photos to Google+?  Turns out, this is a differentiating factor between Facebook and Google+. The Google+ app automatically uploads photos taken on my phone to Picasa and then posts them on Google+. Pretty cool, right? This photo was uploaded exactly one week after I lost my phone.  I decide to call Yellow Cab once again and make them aware of the situation because it is clear that someone has my phone. I am told, once again, that the driver will call me if he finds my phone. He doesn’t call. . .

  • Friday, August 5: Find photo on Google+ of my Yellow Cab driver that was taken from my lost/stolen cell phone …but he does take more photos that upload to Picasa and Google+! Including one of himself that I find on Friday, August 5 that he had taken the previous Saturday (I obviously wasn’t checking my account enough).
The second photo published to my Google+ stream from my stolen phone is of the cab driver

The second photo published to my Google+ stream from my stolen phone is of the cab driver

Yep, it’s my Yellow Cab driver – #957 in Kansas City. I call Yellow Cab, speak with Teresa, tell her the story and send the picture of the driver. She calls me back and tells me that Mr. #957 says his friend has the phone and took the picture of him, but that he’ll try to get it back. Teresa goes on to tell me that he’s a very honest person and has turned in many phones in the past. I find this hard to believe, but at this point it doesn’t really matter because I’m 99.9% closer to getting my phone back.

  • Saturday, August 6: Yellow Cab Driver #957 returns cell phone I get a call and text from Teresa saying that Mr. #957 has returned my cell phone and she will drop it off.
  • Monday, August 8: My phone is hand delivered to me 18 days after I lost my phone – Success!
One month after signing up for Google+ and 18 days after losing the phone, it was returned to me.

One month after signing up for Google+ and 18 days after losing the phone, it was returned to me.

Check out the second part of this story to learn why Mr. #957 had access to all of my personal information and was able to (accidentally) upload photos of himself to my Google+ account.

Thanks, Amy, for sharing your story! Have a similar story about how social media helped locate something lost or how it helped uncover a fraud? We’d love to hear your experience in a comment!

Comments And Reactions

  1. Very neat write-up post.Much kudos again. Just keep on writing.

  2. I believe that a couple of YC employees would have needed to explain their honesty to local law enforcement if it had been my phone.

  3. Great story! I really enjoy it 🙂

  4. If any of you guys are tired of misplacing or losing your phones, slap a Phone Lasso on it and put and end to the misery!

  5. www.gamespot.com says:

    This information iss invaluable. How can I find out more?

Trackbacks

  1. […] I recently left my cell phone in Yellow Cab #957 in Kansas City and the cab driver took it, took pictures on it, and returned  it (16 days later).  He only returned it because I was able to turn him in to his boss with a photo he took of himself that uploaded to my Google+ account. Learn more in my guest blog post at SocMedSean.com. […]

  2. […] & twitter account. Thanks to Amy for sharing her great story!Yesterday, I told the story of how Google+ aided my detective work that led to the recovery of my lost/stolen cell phone. Today, I’ll discuss the major security flaws I uncovered about Android phones and Sprint service […]

  3. […] The Star, about a story he was working on around cell phone security. He must have come across the guest blog posts I wrote for Sean Nicholson’s (SocMedSean) blog last year about losing my cell phone in a cab, […]

  4. […] One of the posted photos clearly showed the cab driver from that fateful ride — the one who claimed not to have seen the phone! Amy contacted the cab company with the proof, and the driver returned her phone. […]

  5. […] One of the posted photos clearly showed the cab driver from that fateful ride — the one who claimed not to have seen the phone! Amy contacted the cab company with the proof, and the driver returned her phone. […]

  6. […] If you haven’t read it already, be sure to check out @AmyLynnStewart’s great post about losing her phone, only to have a cabbie steal it and post photos on Google+. The photos are a bit on the creepy […]

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