D’oh! Selfie video taken of iPhone thief thanks to security camera software

David bisson
David Bisson

BurglarDetectives with the Los Angeles Police Department are currently looking for a man of whom an iPhone selfie video was taken prior to his stealing the device.

According to a statement released by the LAPD, the theft took place at approximately 7:00 am PDT on July 11th.

The authorities assert that the man in question entered the residence through a side door, picked up the iPhone, and accidentally took a selfie video before fleeing with the device.

However, a news segment filmed by Fox 11 suggests a slightly different story.

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First, though the police statement asserts that the victim entered and exited the apartment through a side door, the TV report says that victim, Drew Rosen, admits that he left the front door unlocked when he exited the apartment that morning.

Second, the selfie video might have actually been an intended consequence of software installed on the device.

As Rosen explains, he had installed Presence, an app that functions as a motion-detector security camera when paired with another device or computer, on his iPhone prior to the invasion.

This software apparently activated when the thief picked up Rosen’s device and uploaded a video of him to the victim’s account before the intruder left the premises.

It is fortunate that the burglar left without incident, as there were other people in the apartment during the break-in.


“[It] is scary because my daughter was sleeping in the room next door, and I have a roommate who was sleeping in a room in the back,” Rosen explained to Fox 11. “For them to be asleep in the house when someone comes through the house is pretty scary stuff.”

The LAPD’s investigation for the suspect, described as a black male, is ongoing. If you think you might know who the man is please contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477).

I see two cautionary tales emerge from this story.

First, burglars should think twice before entering an apartment and stealing someone’s device. For all they know, mobile software could eventually lead the authorities to their doorstep.

Second, and more importantly, figuring out how to deter thieves is an age-old problem; however, locking the front door is an obvious first step.

Security works both in the physical and digital space only when we take time to think about our defenses, including those that are most obvious to us. Let’s remember that every time we leave the house in the morning.

David Bisson is an infosec news junkie and security journalist. He works as Contributing Editor for Graham Cluley Security News and Associate Editor for Tripwire's "The State of Security" blog.

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