GPS app helps police find and arrest burglars

Police recoup $14,000 worth of electronics stolen from AT&T Foundry on Homer Avenue

With the help of a GPS-tracking application, "Find My iPhone," police arrested a man and woman who allegedly stole thousands of dollars of electronics from a Palo Alto business.

Vallejo resident Tania Marin Starr and San Francisco resident Gerald Wayne Elliott II were booked the morning after their overnight burglary of 15 cell phones, 15 laptop computers, an iPad and other electronic items stolen from AT&T Foundry on 260 Homer Ave.

Palo Alto police received a call on the morning of Jan. 8 from an AT&T Foundry employee that the tech incubator had been robbed overnight while it was closed, according to a press release. The stolen items came to a value of approximately $14,000.

Officers arrived on scene and determined that one or more people had forced entry to 260 Homer Ave. using a pry tool on a door. While officers were still there, an AT&T employee used the "Find My iPhone" app, which, when installed, can locate a lost or stolen device using GPS. Linked to the stolen iPad, the app located the tablet in a parking lot at the corner of Sherman Avenue and Birch Street.

A police officer went to survey parked cars in the lot to check for the stolen items and noticed one with a man sitting in the passenger seat and a heap of items covered with a jacket on the rear floorboard of the car. The officer ran a registration check on the car's license plate and saw it also had a suspended registration.

Watching the car from a distance, the officer saw a woman return to the car and drive out of the parking lot. The officer followed and pulled them over for registration violation. The heap in the back of the car turned out to be all of the Foundry's stolen property, as well as a crowbar and other pry tools.

Detectives determined that the car Starr and Elliott were driving, a 2001 Dodge Durango, had been stolen from a car dealership in Vallejo at some point during the last 14 months, according to the press release.

Police are currently investigating whether either Starr or Elliott might be connected to any other burglaries in Palo Alto or surrounding cities.

"Police credit the 'Find My iPhone' application in leading them to the suspects in this case," the press release states, and encourage people to take advantage of such features in smartphones and other electronic devices.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call our 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be e-mailed to or sent via text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.


Like this comment
Posted by Baroness
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 23, 2014 at 10:57 am

Whoa...meth face!

Like this comment
Posted by Yes, Meth Face For Sure
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 23, 2014 at 11:19 am

Ha, I agree, that's a meth face! What a shame - she could be so pretty! Wow, they traveled all the way from Vallejo. Thanks, Apple and the PAPD.

Like this comment
Posted by parent
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 23, 2014 at 11:29 am

Android cell phones and tablets have a similar feature called "Android Device Manager", but it is turned off by default. Enable it in your device settings beforehand if want to track your device if it gets lost or stolen.

Like this comment
Posted by james
a resident of Monroe Park
on Jan 23, 2014 at 1:10 pm

They were in a parking lot across the street from the Palo Alto Court House. When "the woman returned to the car" (Starr), she was leaving the Court house from a drug related case. That's why they were in Palo Alto.

Like this comment
Posted by RickAnderson
a resident of another community
on Jan 24, 2014 at 4:10 am

A mobile application associated with GPS tracker help police to nab the suspect! I think everyone should take advantage of these apps to activate them on our Smart phone to reduce the possibilities of theft which leads to privacy exploitation.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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