Social media and iCloud help family track down a stolen iPad

Posted at 5:27 PM, Jun 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-22 22:32:22-04

After a couple's Bakersfield home was burglarized, they thought they'd never see their stolen items again, but their stolen iPad and iCloud would help in the search. 

Just days after the home was burglarized, pictures started popping up on Tara Whitmore's mother-in-law's iCloud account. 

Whitmore's mother-in-law told Whitmore nearly two weeks after the first pictures started popping up on iCloud. 

"She goes, oh by the way, some pictures popped up," said Whitmore. 

They turned the pictures over to the Bakersfield Police Department and then decided to share them on Facebook. 

"There were hundreds of pictures and so we just took a couple of them and we posted them on my page and I posted them -- and my son who's 22 posted them on his page," said Whitmore. 

23ABC has blurred the pictures because the people in the pictures have not been charged with a crime. 

"I posted it at nighttime, when I woke up in the morning, there were tons of messages with their names and who they were," said Whitmore. 

They gave the information to BPD and then two days and nearly 800 Facebook shares later, the people in the pictures contacted BPD, returned the iPad and said they bought it off of someone in the parking lot of a store for $150. 

"Just be leery of someone wanting to meet you in the parking lot of a store, that's not a common place to meet," said Sergeant Gary Carruesco with BPD. 

Sgt. Carruesco said people should also be skeptical when buying something that's not from a retailer. 

"Ads on Craigslist, ads on social media and again -- one of those deals that sounds too good to be true -- it's what our parents taught us all the time -- nine times out of 10 it is too good to be true," said Sgt. Carruesco.

Police said iCloud was an asset in this case and this is a lesson for all of us with high priced items.

"We always encourage people to write down serial numbers of high value items in their house. If it's jewelry or something that doesn't have a serial number get a good description, take a picture," said Sgt. Carruesco. 

Sgt. Carruesco also suggested creating your own identification on items without serial numbers. For instance, marking an "X" or your initials somewhere hidden, such as in the battery compartment, can help them identify your items. 

Sgt. Carruesco also said buyers should call the police department with the serial number before they purchase the item to make sure it's not stolen and also suggested meeting at the police department and if the buyer doesn't want to that could be a red flag. 

Whitmore said even though the iPad has been returned, she's left the Facebook post up because she hopes it leads to catching whoever stole all of the items. They're still missing many more items like flat screen TVs, a large safe, wedding pictures and more. 

"My hope is that with this Facebook post somebody will realize that their wedding pictures are gone so if they see them in the trash somewhere or if they see them at a house or you know somebody's got the stuff they're discarding they'll think twice and think 'Hey, maybe this is from that' and return those at least to the police station," said Whitmore.