security locked Credit: BanSpy/Flickr

It happens every day. People lose their smartphones, or worse, people get robbed. And while usually the story ends right there, with the missing phones remaining lost forever, in some cases, there’s a happy ending. That’s what happened to a 31-old Brit, who managed to recover his stolen Galaxy Note with the help of some fellow forum members and the Cerberus security app.

According to The Telegraph, which picked up the story after it popped up on Reddit and other sites, Richard Kay’s phone was stolen from his girlfriend’s house during a burglary. But Richard had an ace up his sleeve, because the phone was running Cerberus, a security app for Android that enables users to take control over the phone remotely.

Richard took to the tech forum Overclockers to share his mishap, and with the help of his online friends, he managed to snap pictures of the guy who had the Note, find his location, and eventually even his full name and Facebook profile. As you’d expect from a bunch of internet people, they even came up with a nickname for the alleged thief – Moley, after the mole on the man’s face.

stolen phone

Armed with the information he got from Cerberus, Richard called the local police, which, after some coaxing, paid a visit to the new user of the Galaxy Note. The story ends happily – the phone was recovered and Moley got a “caution” for the possession of a stolen good. He claimed that he bought the Note from a stranger on the street for £75.

To prove that the whole story (which unfolded over 40 hours and garnered hundreds of thousands of page views) was more than a publicity stunt for Cerberus, Richard Kay even posted images of the cops who got his phone back. Also, the police officially confirmed his story, and apologized for the delay in recovering the device.

And now for the PSAs. First, protect your investment; install a security app on your device, and make sure it works even if the phone is tampered with.

Second, don’t steal a nerd’s phone. It might come back to bite you.

Bogdan Petrovan
Bogdan is the European Managing Editor of Android Authority. He loves tech, travel, and fantasy. He wishes he had more time for two of those things. Bogdan's phone is a Nexus 6P.