The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

October 15, 2012

Smart phone leads police to burglar

Staff Writer
The Daily Item

— LEWISBURG — A 21-year-old Lewisburg man who allegedly had been breaking into homes occupied by Bucknell University students was nabbed after the owner of an iPhone taken in one of the burglaries alerted police that GPS tracking software indicated the address where the loot was being stored.

Tristan Swigart was arrested by Buffalo Valley Regional Police and charged with burglary, criminal trespass, theft, loitering and prowling, and criminal mischief.

Police said at just before 5 a.m. Sept. 15, four Bucknell co-eds reported that someone had broken into their apartment at 31 S. Sixth St. while three of the occupants were sleeping upstairs. The fourth woman was not home at the time.

One of the co-eds told police that she heard a noise at 4 a.m. and went to the landing and yelled down, but went back to bed when no one responded, believing that the noise may have been a roommate returning home. When that fourth woman did return home, she found that they had been burglarized.

Taken were a 32-inch flat-screen television, a DVD player, a bottle of Three Olive vodka, a bottle of wine and a bottle of champagne.

Police found the TV about 25 yards from the house, and a footprint was discovered near the TV. Two days later, police received a report that a DVD player had been ditched behind 617 or 621 Market St. A sneaker was found with the DVD player. Police said the tread from the sneaker matched the footprint found near the TV.

The most damning clue was yet to come, officers said.

A student who lives at 108 S. Sixth St. reported that someone stole a TV, an iPhone and two MacBooks from her. She said she had GPS tracking software that indicated her iPhone had been taken to 113 N. Third St.

Police did not know the exact app the woman used to track her iPhone, but the device comes with an internal GPS receiver. A GPS Phone Tracker is a free app for iPhones available through Apple.

Officers went to the North Third Street home and interviewed the occupants, including Shana Swigart, who allowed police to search the property. While doing so, officers found a locked room, which Shana Swigart said was a room her brother, Tristan Swigart, uses. When police entered, they allegedly found items taken from 108 S. Sixth St., 31 S. Sixth St. and 114 S. Sixth St.

Police allegedly also found a bottle of Three Olives vodka and an apparent match to the sneaker found by the DVD player.

These GPS tracking apps have turned into a crime-fighting tool. On Friday, Sacramento, Calif., police apprehended a purse-snatcher when the woman victim remembered her iPhone had a GPS tracking app. She activated the app and notified police.