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Stolen iPhone ends up in armored truck

Thief sold phone at mall recycling kiosk, owner has tough time recovering it

SAN ANTONIO - Ryan Reed is struggling to get by without his lifeline, his iPhone. Reed lost the device Monday night while he was out shopping.

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"At some point, I must have set the phone down to pick something up and I didn't notice it for another 30 plus minutes," Reed said.

When he realized the phone was missing, he started calling it. He realized someone had it because every time he called it, the phone went dead after one ring.

Fortunately, Reed had installed an application that locates lost Apple devices using GPS. When he called up the phone's location with his iPad, it showed it was located at Ingram Park Mall which was closed for the night.

Tuesday morning, Reed checked the phone's location again. This time, it was on the move on the Northwest side of town.

"It went to, like, two Chick-fil-a's, it went to a Hobby Lobby, then it went to a back parking lot of a Home Depot," Reed said.

Eventually, Reed realized the phone was inside of a Loomis armored truck. After following the truck for about an hour, Reed and a friend decided to confront the workers.

"We told the guy and he goes, 'That makes sense, we actually have a lot of phones in this truck right now,'" Reed said.

The worker explained that Loomis is contracted to pick up phones that have been turned into EcoATM's, computer kiosks located at local malls that pay cash for used phones and other electronics.

Reed said he contacted Loomis officials who were very helpful but were ultimately not authorized to return is phone.

Next, Reed contacted EcoATM which is based in San Diego, California. The customer service representative explained to Reed that he would need to provide a police report, serial number and other identifying information to get the phone back and there was no guarantee it could be returned before it was shipped to California for processing.

"There was nothing that I could do to stop my phone from being shipped from San Antonio to San Diego," Reed said.

When contacted by KSAT 12 News Wednesday, EcoATM Director of Marketing and Communications Ryan Kuder said they were aware of the situation and were trying to reunite Reed with is phone.

"The good news is because it wound up at an EcoATM, you get it back," Kuder said. "I wish that we could make it faster, but we do the best that we can."

Kuder said of the thousands of phones turned into the company's 240 EcoATM's across the nation, only about one a day turns out to be reported stolen.

In an effort to prevent thieves from selling stolen phones, EcoATM requires sellers to scan a photo ID, provide a thumb print and have their picture taken for each device that is turned in. That information goes into a database which can be used to track down who sold a stolen device and ultimately stole money from EcoATM.

"It doesn't do us any good to take stolen phones. It's something that we work very actively both internally and with law enforcement to prevent," Kuder said. "We're going to do what we can to figure out who took it and hopefully slap some cuffs on them."

Kuder said the company was still waiting for the information they need from Reed to find his phone.

Meanwhile, Reed was frustrated with the whole process. He believes the company should make it harder for people to sell stolen devices and less of a hassle to recover one.

"There's going to be someone trying to take advantage of it no matter what they do," Reed said. "Put a protocol in place so if somebody finds out that a phone is stolen and they can prove it, don't let it be shipped a thousand miles away and make them wait for it." 

ecoATM offers these tips to people who have lost their phones.

For a list of recent stories Tim Gerber has done, click here.


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