I've virtually tracked down my missing/stolen iPod Touch, and have discovered all sorts of personal information about the person who is now using it. How can I reclaim it? [Details inside-- this one's a detective story]
Apologies for the length, but I promise it's an unusual/fascinating one:
Two months ago, I left my iPod touch in the seat pocket of an airplane landing at Washington-Dulles. The next day I discovered I had lost it, and called the airline (United) to report the loss. They hadn't found it, and that was that.
Then, two months later, and seemingly unrelated, I began seeing some very odd behavior in my Gmail account. Three months of emails had inexplicably been archived, and when I dug deeper into my "All Mails" I discovered a large set of emails that were not from me-- they were various notes, song lyrics, phone numbers, and other tidbits of information. I immediately changed my password due to security concerns, but I was curious as to where these items (many of which had the gmail 'Notes' label) were coming from, as they simply seemed too "real" to be random spam.
As you have likely figured out, I eventually pieced together that these items were all from the person who had found my iPod and started using it as her own without removing any of my gmail account information that was on the iPod. For this reason, whenever she wrote something in the iPod's "Notes" app, it was automatically synced to my Gmail via IMAP and given a "Notes " label.
From browsing these notes, I was able to find out a substantial amount of information about this person. While I do not know her name or contact info, I know many other things: the high school she goes to (she's a freshman), the DC suburb she lives in, what her class schedule is this semester, the names of her teachers, the names and phone numbers of some of her friends, the extracurricular groups she is involved in (including her Army Cadet group's mission statement), I know the songs she is most into right now, and I even know angsty diary entries about the boy she currently likes.
It's crazy having this much detail about the life of a complete stranger. It would all be just a curious aside were it not for the fact that she has my iPod, and while I've moved on and the money isn't a huge issue, I would like to get it back on a matter of principle.
So I tried communicating with her. I temporarily changed my gmail password back to the original password (to re-enable syncing), and wrote a "Note" that synced to the iPod, politely explaining the situation, giving my contact info, and offering a $100 reward. I know that she read it and ignored it, because I later saw the "Deleted Messages" label on the note, showing that she deleted it on the iPod (everything still exists server-side in gmail). Soon after, she opened the mail app on the ipod and sent an email to a friend of hers (from my email account, although probably not intentionally so) talking in length about her weekend and her romantic misfires.
So, my question to all of you is what (if anything) I should do. I'm financially comfortable enough that I can live without the iPod, but the principle of the matter--that I can see exactly how they are using my item--makes me want to get it back. There are a number of potential approaches:
- Do nothing-- be the adult and call it a loss
- Continue trying to reason with her (offer higher reward?)
- Contact one of her friends (perhaps the person she emailed from my email account)
- Contact the local police department (side question: is this considered stolen goods, or does the law take a "finders-keepers" view?)
- Contact a school administrator
- Contact her ISP, verizon (I have her IP number)
- Create a tumblr full of her musings, serving no purpose other than a voyeuristic treatise on the angst and bad grammar of 15 year-olds
Any thoughts? Looking for advice as far as the law is concerned (whose property is the ipod at this point?), effectiveness (what do you think would work?), and ethics (is contacting her friends considered crossing the line? do I come across as some sort of creepy stalker?).