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This article was published on December 16, 2016

Film student tricked thief into lifting his phone and spied on him for weeks

Mix
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Mix

Former TNW Writer

Mix is a tech writer based in Amsterdam that loves cinema and probably hates the movies that you like. Tell him everything you despise about Mix is a tech writer based in Amsterdam that loves cinema and probably hates the movies that you like. Tell him everything you despise about his work on Twitter.

Not too long ago, film student Anthony van der Meer was lunching in Amsterdam, when his iPhone suddenly disappeared. He reported the smartphone stolen, but to no avail. The thief had already disposed of the SIM card and disconnected the device from the internet. It was gone.

According to statistics, Dutch police registers nearly 300 smartphone thefts on average each week – and most of these devices never turn up.

Curious who steals these phones and where they eventually end up, van der Meer decided to try and get his phone swiped again – but this time around the film student pre-loaded the device with spyware so he could keep tabs on the thief and get to know him up close and personal.

Van der Meer installed anti-theft app Cerberus, which would give him access not only to the location of the device, but also to its contents and features. This means he could not only retrieve any file stored the phone, but also use its camera and microphone to surreptitiously spy on the bandit.

After four days of desperately trying to get his phone stolen again, someone finally took the bait and snatched the decoy smartphone.

Over the next two weeks, the film student secretly followed the thief as he wandered around Amsterdam with his lifted phone, documenting his each and every move – and eventually turning it into a documentary.

Find my Phone is the final outcome. Equally thrilling and disturbing, this short docufilm is an intimate exploration of the mind and life of a thief through the lens of technology.

Curious to see where van der Meer’s investigation ultimately takes him? Watch the full documentary in the video section above.