iPhone app aids police in catching burglar

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, is in the Jackson County Jail 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.

The burglary victims, a couple who lives in the 2500 block of Southport Way, 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. They had left a glass sliding door on 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.

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. 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 then confessed to the crime, police said.

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.

— Ryan Pfeil

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