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App takes 'selfie' of phone thief

Published On: Sep 25 2013 10:21:21 AM CDT
iPhone

Brendan McDermid/Reuters

Cleveland (WJW) -- A Cleveland man's smartphone proved to be too smart for a suspected thief.

"Last year, my iPhone was stolen. So I just have terrible luck with phones," said Arjun Venkatesh, a sophomore at Case Western Reserve.

His bad luck streak only continued last week.

"Around 11 at night, me and my friend were walking to a different house and these two guys just came running up behind us. They grabbed my friend and pushed him to the ground and put a gun to his chest. They asked for our stuff and took off," Venkatesh said.

He went to his computer, went online, and locked his smartphone.

"A little while later, I get this email from Lookout. I had totally forgotten about this feature on my phone. And I get a picture of this random guy. And the email says, someone tried to unlock your phone five times unsuccessfully and this is a picture of the guy who did it," Venkatesh said.

Venkatesh's smartphone had an app called Lookout with a feature called Lock Cam.

The app says after three unsuccessful attempts to crack the password, the app uses the device's front-facing camera to snap a selfie.

"It was almost comical to me. You don't expect that at all. I was just trying to protect my phone from being hacked into, not thinking I'd get an actual picture out of the guy," Venkatesh said.

He turned the picture into police at Case Western Reserve University, who are now investigating.

Venkatesh, meanwhile, doesn't have his phone back yet.

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