It was like something out of CSI. The St. Petersburg Times is reporting that the snatched iPhones incident began when a mom and her stepdaughter were getting aboard the SheiKra roller coaster at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida. The theme park provides unlocked storage bins for people to put things in so they don't fly away during the ride, so their two iPhones (in purses) were dropped in. Probably not a very safe thing to do, but that's what they did.
When the 13-year-old girl cut her lip during the ride, the pair was about to rush off to a first aid station -- forgetting about their possessions -- but before they could get back to the storage bin, someone snatched the purse with the iPhones inside.
The police and park security were called, and then the 13-year-old crime victim remembered MobileMe. In an employee break room, the teenager logged into the family MobileMe account using an officer's laptop. (It's worth noting that while this process used to require a desktop browser, you can now access Find My iPhone from another iPhone.)
You guessed it. He had one of the stolen iPhones; the other one was inside the apartment. Police reports say Richard Emerson, 25, admitted the theft and is charged with grand theft. He's out on bail, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement says it is his 19th arrest.
It took 45 minutes from the time of the theft to the arrest of the man. MobileMe may not be for everybody, but the Find my iPhone feature is getting a pretty good track record.
It's probably a good idea to emphasize that recovering stolen property is a police matter, not something you should do on your own.
[Thanks to Dan for the tip]