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Video: This film student secretly tracked the thief who stole his smartphone

A Dutch film student got his HTCOne stolen on purpose in Amsterdam just so he could spy on the thief and learn more about him.

Published onDecember 19, 2016

Getting your smartphone stolen isn’t the best experience you could have. The idea of a total stranger having access to your photos, videos, text messages, and other personal data is quite disturbing to most people. Anthony van der Meer, a Dutch film student, has experienced this first-hand when his phone was stolen in a restaurant in Amsterdam. He reported the theft to the police but, unfortunately, never saw his device again.

The experience got Anthony thinking. He started wondering what kind of a person would actually steal someone’s phone and where do the stolen devices end up. With that in mind, he decided to get another phone stolen from him — on purpose — just so he was able to get answers to his questions. Anthony downloaded security app Cerberus on an HTC One (M7) which allowed him to track the phone’s location and control the device remotely when it was online. His mission was simple: get the phone stolen, spy on the thief to learn more about him, and make a video about it.

After a few days of trying, someone on the metro in Amsterdam took the bait and stole the One M7 from Anthony. The thief turned off the device shortly after he had stolen it, and turned it back on four days later when he inserted a new SIM card.

During the next 14 days, Anthony tracked the location of the phone, listened to a few conversations, and took a couple of photos, one of which revealed the thief’s face. He quickly figured out quite a few things about the man who has stolen his phone. He was Egyptian, had a lot of financial problems, and was homeless. After a couple of days, Anthony, who is a victim in this case, actually started feeling bad for the thief because of his situation.

But that all changed once he decided to see him in person. He tracked his location to a property in north Amsterdam, and just as he started filming, the man stepped out of a house and made eye contact with him. In the video, Anthony says that the man was completely different than what he had imagined and looked quite aggressive. Not wanting to get in any trouble with the thief, he turned off the camera and left.

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The video, which is called “Find my Phone” and is around 21 minutes long, is very popular on YouTube as it has amassed over 2.5 million views in only one week. If you want to see the whole story for yourself — which you should — feel free to check out the video. And as always, tell us what you think of it in the comment section below.

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