hugo-scheckter

College student tracks down his stolen iPad

April 14, 2011 at 1:25 PM ET

Hugo Scheckter's Twitter profile picture

UPDATE: Hugo Scheckter responds to our email, his quotes added below in bold.

Thieves who think they can easily pick off iPads and other devices be warned: Don't underestimate your victim. Especially when he's a wise-cracking, soccer-and-cricket-playing managing editor of a college student newspaper.

The thief who stole Hugo Scheckter's iPad did not know they were dealing with someone with "stunning good looks and fantastic dress sense" (from the then-freshman's own introduction to the George Washington University's Patriot journal). Nor did the would-be Thomas Crown realize that business school student Scheckter subscribed to Apple's MobileMe cloud service, which comes with a tracking program to locate missing devices.

Below, he explains to DC's Fox 5 how it worked for him:

He told us his learned a valuable lesson from this experience: "If someone at Apple recommends something — do it! I only had it on my iPad because my Twitter follower, Tony, who works for apple in Indiana, told me to! The second thing is to always think outside the box with problems. I know it sounds obvious, but tracking it was a last resort and I'm so glad it turned out well!"

Scheckter, who sometimes leaves his dorm room unlocked so his friends can borrow his PlayStation (probably not the best idea), came back from traveling with his soccer team to find his room locked — and ransacked. His lockbox was smashed up, and his iPad, 13-inch MacBook Pro and $500 in cash were missing. In an email, he wrote us:

"They broke into the building. I do leave my door open (or at least I used to!) for my friend to play on my playstation. The buildings at GW are supposed to be secure, while the door was shut, it wasn't locked. I definitely take part responsibility for allowing it to happen."

In his anger, Scheckter vented on Twitter, catching the attention of a friend who reminded the victim about MobileMe. But it only works when the device is turned on, so he had to wait until Sunday night before he could get a fix.

He recounted the tale to the Washington Post's Jenna Johnson, who tracked down this story and followed Scheckter's tweets, showing the progression of his quest to regain his stuff:

"I hit 'track' and it took me right to the room in the house where it was. When he went to the back room, it moved to the back room," said Scheckter, a sophomore sports management major who grew up in England. "The police were skeptical when I told them exactly where my iPad was — the address, the room in the house."

Scheckter posted a photo of the house from Google Earth on his Facebook page. He tweeted: "Currently tracking my iPad. It's in Maryland."

While some of his friends wanted to stage their own rescue operation, Scheckter, 20, exercised restraint. "Scheckter said it was difficult enough to call his mother in England to explain that he was robbed," wrote Johnson. "He didn't want to call her from a hospital bed because of a 'Rambo-style' operation."

Scheckter was born in Atlanta, GA, but moved to the UK when he was 6. He lived in Laverstoke, England for 12 years, before moving to GWU for his studies, which focus on sports management.

On Monday, police finally followed up with Scheckter's detective work and arrived at the house, where they activated the beeping sound that led them to the iPad. Turns out the person who had Scheckter's iPad had bought it from the thief, and he gave the police a description to track that person down.

While his laptop and cash still seem to be MIA, at least Scheckter recovered his hard-earned iPad. Here's a NSFW picture (due to language) of the triumphant student holding it.

But the theft did leave him feeling violated. He tweeted:

"The idiots didn't wipe the ipad or it would have been lost. The horrible thing is that they were looking thru my family photos and emails :/"

And in his email to us, he wrote that he's going to take more precautions in guarding his gadgets from now on: "I got careless, and I got hit. I was actually lucky they didn't take more." 

More stories of thieves caught by their victims:

Check out Technolog on Facebook, and on Twitter, follow Athima Chansanchai, who also has MobileMe on her MacBook, so when she gets an iPhone or iPad, don't think about taking it, thieves!

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