Student makes film about thief who stole his phone

PHOTO: YouTube screengrab

There's nothing more unsettling than having your smartphone stolen from you.

Your conduit to the connected world is severed, sure, but that's just the immediate problem. Your phone probably holds more information about you than any other device - photos, contacts, messages and notes - all of which are now in the hands of someone who might try to exploit you. It's not a happy thought.

After having an iPhone stolen, Dutch film student Anthony van der Meer needed to know more about the underworld of snatched handsets. So naturally, he baited a thief and made a film, Find My Phone, of the ensuing adventure after the phone was taken.

Student lets thief steal phone and makes a short film about it

  • After having an iPhone stolen, Dutch film student Anthony van der Meer needed to know more about the underworld of snatched handsets.
  • So he baited a thief and made a film, Find My Phone, of the ensuing adventure after the phone was taken.
  • To pull it off, van der Meer outfitted a burner Android with Cerberus, an anti-theft app that allows a device to be controlled remotely. He also made flashing and updates impossible, so it couldn't be deleted.
  • After four days of unsuccessful attempts at having the decoy stolen in Rotterdam, van der Meer and his friends moved on to Amsterdam.
  • The phone was grabbed while they waited to catch the metro home, so there was no footage of the event.
  • Once the phone was stolen, van der Meer was notified that the thief replaced the SIM card in the device.
  • He tracked the thief for weeks, and was even able to take took pictures and videos.
  • Eventually, he began learning about the thief's life.
  • He said that he felt as if he was bonding with the new, illegitimate owner of the phone.

To pull it off, van der Meer outfitted a burner Android with Cerberus, an anti-theft app that allows a device to be controlled remotely. In case the thief tried to reset the phone, van der Meer changed the app's name to hide it from detection. He also made flashing and updates impossible, so it couldn't be deleted.

After four days of unsuccessful attempts at having the decoy stolen in Rotterdam, van der Meer and his friends moved on to Amsterdam, where he claims 17 phones are reported stolen each day. Even then, no thief took the bait - until after they had given up. The phone was grabbed while they waited to catch the metro home, so there was no footage of the event.

Read also: Outsmart the pickpocket: How to travel safely

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