Smartphone App Locates Laptop Thief

The laptop's owner was notified of exact coordinates of the laptop's location days after it came up missing, according to police.

by W.T. Eckert, McClatchy News Service / April 23, 2014

A Norfolk, N.Y., man is being held in St. Lawrence County jail, Canton, after a smartphone application helped locate a missing laptop computer.

State police on Saturday charged Shawn L. McGregor with felony fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property.

McGregor was picked up by troopers following an investigation into an April 1 complaint from Gema M. Bicknell that her laptop had been stolen from her home.

State police spokeswoman Trooper Jennifer V. Fleishman said troopers were able to locate the Apple Macbook laptop because Bicknell had downloaded an app on her iPhone that linked all of her Apple devices.

“It was a number of days later that her phone notified her of the location of the computer, and it was exact coordinates,” Fleishman said. “So it gave her Mr. McGregor’s address and she, in turn, notified Investigator (Christopher M.) Nye and he went to the location, talked to Mr. McGregor, got the laptop from him and arrested him.”

It has not been determined how Mr. McGregor came to possess the laptop; however, Fleishman said it had been stolen from Ms. Bicknell’s kitchen counter.

McGregor was arraigned on the charge at the Potsdam Town Court and sent to the county jail without bail.

Before being picked up by state police on the charge related to the stolen laptop, McGregor had been identified by Walmart staff in Malone as having attempted to shoplift numerous items from the store, including a television set, worth a total of $817.58, a few hours before his arrest.

“He went to the Walmart in Malone and tried to push out a cart full of merchandise, including the television, past the last point of payment,” Fleishman said. “When a clerk asked him if he paid for it, he dropped the cart and ran. She followed him out into the parking lot and watched him getting into a truck and took down the license plate number.”

State police in Malone will seek a warrant for his arrest. Fleishman said he is expected to be charged with petit larceny.

©2014 Watertown Daily Times (Watertown, N.Y.)