Law Offices of Jess C. Bedore III - Certified Specialist in Criminal Law
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You can find your stolen cellphone -- and it could cost you

You've probably heard the phrase "do it yourself," or its acronym "DIY," before. It has become quite a popular trend, with people DIYing all sorts of things. Clothes, pottery, furniture, accessories, maintenance -- these are just a few of the many things that people are doing themselves thanks to the internet and a little creative spirit. However, you probably wouldn't expect DIY to reach the criminal justice realm.

With smartphone location apps and the rise of cellphone thefts, DIY criminal justice has come about in an interesting way. These apps that were' talking about let someone find their lost cellphone, giving them an exact location. Sometimes that leads them to a restaurant where they accidentally left it. Sometimes it leads them to a taxi cab company, where their phone was held after it was left in the backseat of a cab.

But other times, it will actually lead someone to a person's home -- and the person who actually stole their phone. The combustible tete-a-tete could result in a positive outcome, with the thief not facing criminal charges after giving the person his or her cellphone back. Obviously, the person who lost his or her cellphone prefers this outcome too. But it can also lead to very negative outcomes, with the meeting resulting in a fight that leaves people injured.

Although the ability to track down your phone sounds like a great idea, it may leave you in a vulnerable position. The legal and criminal liability you may incur for confronting your cellphone thief may end up being far more valuable than the phone itself. Taking justice into your own hands is dangerous.

Source: New York Times, "When Hitting 'Find My iPhone' Takes You to a Thief's Doorstep," Ian Lovett, May 3, 2014

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