Need to find a burglar who broke into your home and made off with $1,600 of your electronics? There's an app for that.
An iPhone program called "Find my iPhone" led police to one such suspected burglar last week. Gregory Gabriel Gross, 41, a Medford transient on parole for past robbery and theft convictions, was in the Jackson County Jail Monday on charges of first-degree burglary and first-degree theft. His bail is set at $65,000.
He allegedly swiped an iPhone 5, iPad 2 and HP Pavilion laptop computer from a Medford home, police said.
Scott and Sharon Kohlmeier, who live in the 2500 block of Southport Way — off of Tahitian Avenue in northeast Medford — called Medford police the morning of May 17. They reported they had gone to sleep at 9 p.m. May 16 and woke up at 4:30 a.m. to discover the property gone. They had left a glass sliding door at the rear of the house open to allow for better air circulation, police said.
"They wanted the cat to be able to come and go during the night, too," Lt. Mike Budreau said.
They found the door closed when they woke up. Neither resident heard any disturbances during the night. The stolen electronics had all been in their living room.
"It's very creepy," Scott Kohlmeier said. "It's one thing to come home and discover stuff, but knowing someone was there while you were in the house is very uncomfortable and a very creepy feeling."
Before police arrived, the residents activated the Find my iPhone app. According to Apple's website, the app allows iPhone owners to track their phone via a beacon the phone broadcasts. Users also can use the app to lock the phone and erase personal data.
The phone broadcast its location from the parking lot of 2163 Sunburst Court, a stone's throw from their home.
"It's a really good app. It does all kinds of things," Kohlmeier said. "I was impressed at how accurate (it was)."
Police responded and found Gross sleeping in a car within a foot of where the phone's signal came from. He consented to a search of his vehicle, and authorities recovered all the stolen property.
"They popped the trunk and there it all was, pretty much neatly stacked in the trunk," Budreau said.
Gross confessed to the crime, police said. Court records show he was convicted of third-degree robbery and possession of methamphetamine last month. He also was convicted of possession of a controlled substance in 2008.
The property has since been returned undamaged to the owners.
The story ended well, but police said it's a reminder of the importance of keeping windows and doors locked. If residents wish to leave windows or doors open for better air circulation, police recommended using a dowel so burglars can't open the entry further. Kohlmeier is taking that advice to heart, saying they are locking up now.
"It's the first time it's happened to anyone in our neighborhood," he said.
Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.