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Photographs offer look into the life of a smartphone thief

68
Your auto image upload settings could prove revealing if your smartphone is stolen.

Over the past year or so we've come across stories about smartphone thieves inadvertently posting their images (including selfiies) online or, as in the case of a thief named Hafid, in a continuous stream, unaware that the phone was set to automatically upload images to Dropbox and then onto the owner's computer desktop. 

The woman whose smartphone was stolen has kept a Tumblr blog with Hafid's images and even a video of Hafid and his buddy wrestling (now set to the tune of Strauss' Blue Danube Waltz).

The photos snapped on the stolen phone offer an unintended intimate look at the thief's daily life.
The owner took to Tumblr to share the pictures.

You can see more of Hafid's images from the stolen phone, and the owner's running commentary, here.

Although not quite as visually stimulating, there are a few other smartphone theft stories that are kind of interesting, including one where a fox made off with the phone but later answered it and sent a cryptic text message. In the case of the stealthy fox, the owner wasn't too bright since the phone was set up to play a fox-attracting (mating?) call and he left it within easy reach of the possibly hot-to-trot fox.

And did you hear the one about a crew/cast member from a Disney Cruise — yes, Disney — being accused of stealing a woman's phone? It's an older story and we still don't know what happened in the end to the alleged perpetrator other than he was put on administrative leave while Disney investigated. But, we can see from the owner's special Facebook page that he had a really fun time on the cruise. The images were streamed to the owner's computer who was able to identify the guy from his Disney name badge. 

So, be careful not to lose your smartphone or get it stolen, but, if you do, you might just be treated to an interesting look into the new owner's life.

Comments

Total comments: 68
Shamael
By Shamael (8 months ago)

That's the kind of people who made me quit Europe for another country, where I never see any of those. In Euroope thay are like raoches, everywhere, and they are protected by nature and law. So, prior to become a total foreigner in my own land, I prefer to be one in a country where they respect me and where I see none of those shown here. Oh, by the way, I am not a racist, or anti semitic, if someone had the idea to say so, I'm just a humble and simple living Jew.

3 upvotes
babalu
By babalu (8 months ago)

You sound like a racist to me.

4 upvotes
Digitall
By Digitall (8 months ago)

Shamael, Europe for another country? First Europe is not a country, is a group of countries. Should we think that Israel is equal to all other Arab countries? Your comment was inappropriate and without knowledge, in other words, was a racist comment. Open your mind.
"Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world... "
-Jonh Lenon-
Peace

5 upvotes
OneGuy
By OneGuy (8 months ago)

If Obama had a son, he would look like that.

3 upvotes
Chris De Schepper
By Chris De Schepper (8 months ago)

sometimes I rea d disgusting, stupid and racist comments.this is one of them

5 upvotes
OneGuy
By OneGuy (8 months ago)

You are correct, Chris. This comment was made by Obama himself in the most inappropriate time. Worthy of an impeachment, wouldn't you say?

3 upvotes
The Squire
By The Squire (8 months ago)

You should have added a 'satire' emoticon....

0 upvotes
tabloid
By tabloid (8 months ago)

I woud NEVER buy a second hand mobile phone before i checked it out first.

And its not the first time that a thief (in the history of the world) has videoed himself and got nicked.

As for DP putting this up..........excellent, you have my 100% support.

2 upvotes
LensBeginner
By LensBeginner (8 months ago)

1. THINK
2. post.

Similar story. The author of this ( http://laptopiniran.tumblr.com/ ) post ended up offering apologies for calling someone a "thief".
No point in a passive-aggressive behaviour like this one, really.

</EXCERPT>
Further news

The innocent new owners of my laptop have been in touch and are mortified about the story and are keen to return the laptop.

Given the huge error of judgement on my part in sharing the story and failing to respect their privacy I have asked them to keep it by means of an apology.

</EXCERPT>

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 6 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
CyberAngel
By CyberAngel (8 months ago)

LOL
Manipulating like a boss!
;-)

0 upvotes
mikegoat
By mikegoat (8 months ago)

What a bunch of paranoid scaredy pants comments here. Let the perps come forward. All you armchair lawyers are a joke!

6 upvotes
bluehighwayman
By bluehighwayman (8 months ago)

This thing seems like it might not be real but someone's attempt to attract an audience. I hope DP has verified this story before posting it!

0 upvotes
Peiasdf
By Peiasdf (8 months ago)

1. Don't you need a release or something to post picture of a suspect?

2. If this phone was resold to an unsuspecting individual, in many case oversea because they can only afford 2nd hand iPhones, all you have done is posting photo of its new owner.

2 upvotes
Leandros S
By Leandros S (8 months ago)

He's also not convicted, so calling him a thief is libel.

0 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (8 months ago)

Check your dictionary, you don't have to be convicted to be a thief, you just have to steal something. :)

3 upvotes
howardroark
By howardroark (8 months ago)

I'm sure the thief will rush back to the states in order to sue for libel and then be convicted of his theft.

1 upvote
Leandros S
By Leandros S (8 months ago)

An extradition request for simple theft? Not sure how likely that is.

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
RLPhotoAndImaging
By RLPhotoAndImaging (8 months ago)

The "unsuspecting individual" is also committing a crime for buying stolen goods, so posting images of whoever possesses the property is fine by me.

6 upvotes
LiSkynden
By LiSkynden (8 months ago)

Yeah, 15 minutes in fame for this guy, but i think this is kind of immature from Dpreview* because this is an internet trend ... or was anyway.

*(as being a big photographing website and not Facebook or other low-life social media crap site)

2 upvotes
MarcLee
By MarcLee (8 months ago)

The more worrying thing is the phone clearly has not been reset. Which means whoever stole it, if this is genuine, has access to all her data.

1 upvote
tabloid
By tabloid (8 months ago)

There is a thing in law called 'common sense'

The 'youth' either took pictures of himself (which we all know he did).

Or the 'youth' sold it to another' youth' who knew it was a hot phone, as there was no proof of ownership from the seller. (common sense)

If the thief was going to sell it to legitimate phone purchasing company, he would have to have given them a specific code number inside the phone. (common practice), which would not be a good idea from the thief's point of view, as it would have come up as 'stolen'.

So he has 2 alternatives.
Keep the phone, or sell it to another 'youth' without any proof of ownership.
The buyer will of course know that that if he is sold a mobile phone on the cheap from a dodgy looking youth...lol, then unless he is a total moron he will know that its stolen.

I rest my case

1 upvote
BBViet
By BBViet (8 months ago)

You ruined your argument with the first sentence. If we enforce laws based on common sense then we don't need facts, evidences and witnesses to put someone in jail, we just find the most probable culprit based on common sense and put him away.
By the way, do you ask for proof of ownership of every item you buy or make sure the thing was ethically made?

4 upvotes
RLPhotoAndImaging
By RLPhotoAndImaging (8 months ago)

Common sense is what is used in enforcing current laws. While it does not in itself act as the end all of justice, it is a vital tool in bringing suspects to forums where they can be judged.
There are millions of people who use common sense for this very purpose every day, all over the world. They're called cops.

1 upvote
babalu
By babalu (8 months ago)

DPR, hopefully for you, you are in possession of official proof that the depicted persons are the real perpetrator(s) of the alleged theft ; and even if so, I think you were ill-advised to publish their countenances the way you did. If however they should turn out to be second-hand buyers of the phone, you could be in for calumny and other charges.
Furthermore , as one other commentor has stated, I do not
see this article really related to photography .

1 upvote
Bill Donnell
By Bill Donnell (8 months ago)

Possession of stolen property is a crime. Second hand buyers will have little recourse. If the price is too good to be true, one could get in a heap of trouble.

7 upvotes
JWest
By JWest (8 months ago)

"I do not see this article really related to photography"

Did you not notice the photographs?

3 upvotes
babalu
By babalu (8 months ago)

I saw them, but am obviously not taking notice .

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Peiasdf
By Peiasdf (8 months ago)

I am sure DP will claim it is news and therefore they are not libel.

0 upvotes
babalu
By babalu (8 months ago)

Not sure this is news... the pictures date back as much as December 2012 .. :-)

0 upvotes
tabloid
By tabloid (8 months ago)

It is related to photography, as it was photography which identified the thief.(duh)

Well done DPR.

Now where is my phone.....

1 upvote
BBViet
By BBViet (8 months ago)

By the way, how does one know the guy in the picture is the owner of the phone? My phones normally don't have pictures and videos of myself, just of my friends and family. Were there any pictures of the "selfies" type?

2 upvotes
Chenavi
By Chenavi (8 months ago)

You should all (including DPR) bear in mind it's quite possible the phone was stolen and later sold to another person. In fact, assuming there are far more stolen phones than actual thieves, this is likely the case.

4 upvotes
franco montana
By franco montana (8 months ago)

thiefs sell their stolen items asap to make money and get rid of evidence.. this guy prob bought it second hand.. mayb he's the thief as well.. but posting his name and private photos and calling him thief without evidence is ignorance... those files should b sent to proper authorities for a checkup first..

2 upvotes
Art_P
By Art_P (8 months ago)

Private photos? Those photos were sent to the original owner's computer, so could be considered her property to do with as she wished. If the person possessing the phone can't be bothered to check for, disable the app, are you going to blame the person who stole it or the one from whom it was stolen?

0 upvotes
Freeman-Jo
By Freeman-Jo (8 months ago)

Since the theft didn't happen in the US, we shouldn't assume the privacy law. But if this happened in the US, what privacy can you assume when you taking an image of yourself using other people camera/phone? Especially what make you think the owner won't try to reclaim it? Just to be clear posession<>ownership.

1 upvote
ajendus
By ajendus (8 months ago)

Interesting story but unless this thief kept opening Dropbox, this story is false. Dropbox for the iPhone will only upload photos for 10 minutes, and only over wifi unless said setting is changed, before it stops the camera upload. Only does it resume the next time the user opens Dropbox again.

0 upvotes
xMichaelx
By xMichaelx (8 months ago)

It's not an iPhone; it's Android, which can automatically upload all pics to Dropbox.

8 upvotes
fuego6
By fuego6 (8 months ago)

Lol.. why did he automatically assume iphone - was it the word "phone" or "smart" that brought on the confusion?

4 upvotes
chj
By chj (8 months ago)

As for people sympathizing with the thief. PLEASE, he's guilty as hell. If he found it, he should have returned it to the hotel's lost and found. If he bought it from someone else, he would have quickly realized it was stolen. While he might not want to return the phone after paying for it, he should at least have the decency to delete the previous owner's information. He stole it and he's really stupid. Check the phone owner's blog, the thief had the nerve to message the phone owner on her Facebook in a lame pick up attempt.

5 upvotes
Tonkotsu Ramen
By Tonkotsu Ramen (8 months ago)

have you proven he is the thief?

2 upvotes
Peiasdf
By Peiasdf (8 months ago)

@chj
Read the "thief" messages on the blog again. Most are from people playing jokes.

0 upvotes
M J Valentine
By M J Valentine (8 months ago)

I wonder if the thief realises the penalties for theft in Dubai. He may end up having difficulty pointing at cars.

12 upvotes
ABM Barry
By ABM Barry (8 months ago)

This is one of the only good laws on Islam, This prick has probably stolen more than one item, so cut both of the life's hands off! We all work hard for our money, there is no place for thieves in our society at all!

1 upvote
M J Valentine
By M J Valentine (8 months ago)

His only hope of keeping his right hand under Dubai's Sharia law is to confess and plead for mercy. Until about 200 years ago thieves in England would expect to dance the Tyburn jig; now they get Sky TV during their one week stay in prison, free education and help to find a job. I suspect that this story is fake as the US Consulate in Dubai would have reported this matter to the Dubai police.

0 upvotes
stiinek
By stiinek (8 months ago)

iPhone? So why is in Exif: HTC Desire S ?

9 upvotes
Erin Lodi
By Erin Lodi (8 months ago)

Good catch! We've confirmed and edited the story.

1 upvote
vodanh1982
By vodanh1982 (8 months ago)

Without your catch, every phone is iPhone.

8 upvotes
G1Houston
By G1Houston (8 months ago)

Most importantly, have these photos led to the arrest of the thief? It is bad taste in my opinions to run this as a photography story but not as a crime story.

4 upvotes
R_U_Q_R_U
By R_U_Q_R_U (8 months ago)

"New owner"??? He is not an owner he is a thief.

3 upvotes
Wye Photography
By Wye Photography (8 months ago)

Not a thief, but a thieving ba5tard.

2 upvotes
Paul Brown UK
By Paul Brown UK (8 months ago)

Whilst it is likely that these are images of the thief, you should hold in the back of your mind that these could simply be images of an unsuspecting buyer of a secondhand phone, sold to him by the thief..........

11 upvotes
ABM Barry
By ABM Barry (8 months ago)

I disagree, You would have to be pretty stupid to not know it was stolen? If in doubt, ask for the sellers ID and then take a picture of him. If he objects??????

1 upvote
BBViet
By BBViet (8 months ago)

Really? Do you assume any seller who refuses to let you take their photo a crook? Even if he lets you take his photo this does not mean the phone was not stolen either. You can't prove anything this way.
Besides, the guy you're buying from may not be the thief but the first, second, third owner of the phone since it was stolen.
The only way to prove a phone was not stolen is by asking the seller to show the originial receipt or contract/warranty card with the phone's IMEI or serial numbers on it. If you go this far to buy a clean phone I hope you trace every product you intend to buy back to its factory in whatver country it is made in and check if the working conditions meet your ethical standards.

2 upvotes
Juhaz
By Juhaz (8 months ago)

Unsuspecting? Really?

Even if this *** did buy the stolen phone secondhand, he OBVIOUSLY knows it's stolen. He logged to the owner's Facebook and made Skype calls with her account for crying out loud!

0 upvotes
JackM
By JackM (8 months ago)

hmm, looks like it's possible he found it in the street.

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 10 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Just another Canon shooter
By Just another Canon shooter (8 months ago)

I have found two smarthphones so far, and I made everything possible to return them to their owners. In one of those cases, it was difficult to find a charger but I did.

2 upvotes
ABM Barry
By ABM Barry (8 months ago)

You probably find he has a room full of stuff he finds in the streets every day. That,s what Thieves do!

2 upvotes
lattesweden
By lattesweden (8 months ago)

Are you allowed to publish some one elses (the theifs) pictures taken on your stolen gear or is it copyright intrusion from a legal point of view?

1 upvote
MindInRewind
By MindInRewind (8 months ago)

you can publish/sell any photo of anyone without their consent as long as (i believe) its not for commercial reasons (ads). just like a newspaper, they can publish any photo of anyone they want.

1 upvote
ShutterSpy Photo
By ShutterSpy Photo (8 months ago)

MindInRewind: Completely disagree, as far as the laws in the US & Canada are concerned. Even then, your view would apply to photos YOU took and own, which is not the case here.

lattesweden: While it may not be a copyright issue, this *could* constitute eavesdropping, wiretapping, invasion of privacy, voyeurism, etc. depending on the country this occurred in. It would be a criminal and civil issue in almost every modern nation.

While I enjoy these types of stories online, it would certainly suck to be sued by the criminal, which happens far more often than people think. That is, assuming this guy is actually the thief and not some joe-schmoe who bought the phone from the thief unwittingly.

1 upvote
Jacques Gilbert
By Jacques Gilbert (8 months ago)

It looks like "eavesdropping, wiretapping, invasion of privacy, voyeurism, etc. " was recently declared legal in the US, at least according to Congress. </sarcasm>

Comment edited 43 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
chj
By chj (8 months ago)

@mindinrewind That's not correct, you're mixing and matching laws.

You can publish a photo of anyone in a public space without a model release if it's not for commercial reasons. Your subject has no right to privacy in a public space. But that's provided YOU took the photo.

Newspapers don't need model releases for "editorial use" photos. Which means they are not selling the photo itself, they are using it to illustrate a story. But they still need permission from the photographer. A newspaper can't steal your Flickr photos because they're editorial.

In this case, some of the theives photos are in public, some are not. They are "editorial" since they illustrate the story of someone that stole a phone. But none of them were taken by the person publishing them. The publisher does not have the permission of the photographer (unless Dropbox = implied consent.)

I say this strictly academically. I have no problem with the person publishing the thief's photos and making fun of the thief.

Comment edited 7 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Peter Kwok
By Peter Kwok (8 months ago)

"Eavesdropping, wiretapping, invasion of privacy, voyeurism, etc. " are based on expectation of privacy. How much privacy the thief can expect when using someone else' phone with all the apps still installed?

2 upvotes
RLPhotoAndImaging
By RLPhotoAndImaging (8 months ago)

Posting images uploaded from a stolen device by the suspected thief or the buyer of the stolen device from that thief is about as unlawful as posting images from your surveillance camera of a person stealing a package from your front porch... Which is not at all, should you need that clarification.

0 upvotes
CyberAngel
By CyberAngel (8 months ago)

Not according to laws in Dubai.
They just hack the hand off...

0 upvotes
makofoto
By makofoto (8 months ago)

A friend on facebook did the same thing but they also tracked him down and got her phone back.

1 upvote
CaseyComo
By CaseyComo (8 months ago)

So how do _you_ spell douchenozzle?

2 upvotes
KodaChrome25
By KodaChrome25 (8 months ago)

Do u chen ozzle? What is chen ozzle?

1 upvote
Total comments: 68
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