According to the Sydney Morning Herald, an Australian family has recently gone through not one, but two adventures related to stolen iPhones. While on holiday at a Hilton in Fiji, the family's mother, Fiona Donohoe, had her iPhone ripped off by a hotel concierge. In a move worthy of a featured spot on Dumb Criminals, the theft was discovered and the iPhone recovered after the concierge accidentally synced all of his/her own contacts with Donohoe's MobileMe account. After that it was presumably simple to track down the thief, who has been fired from the Fiji Hilton and jailed for six months.
Only two weeks later, 13-year-old Tahira Donohoe had her iPhone stolen while at school. She and her father used the Find My iPhone app on his iPad to track the thief's progress along a bus route for a while before deciding to give up the chase and let the police deal with it. They walked into a police station, set the iPad on the counter, and reported a theft in progress.
Police caught up with the thief shortly thereafter, and when they were at first unable to find the stolen goods, they asked the Donohoes to ping the phone using Find My iPhone. Once the telltale sonar sound went off, police recovered the phone, arrested the 13-year-old thief after a brief chase, and brought everything in to the station to sort things out.
The Donohoes did not press charges against the young thief. The Herald reports that the Donohoes had already replaced the iPhone stolen in Fiji before that phone was recovered, so they now have an extra iPhone. Hopefully they can hang on to all of them from now on.
Find My iPhone is available for free from the App Store and does not require a paid MobileMe account if you have an iPhone 4, any iPad, or a fourth-generation iPod touch. Once iCloud launches, the service will presumably be free for all users on all devices. Find My iPhone is hands-down the first app that should be installed on new iOS devices and the first service you should enable.