A tech-savvy 14-year-old helped Seattle police track down a felon who was arrested with thousands of dollars in electronics equipment stolen from the boy's home.
A tech-savvy 14-year-old helped Seattle police track down a felon who was arrested with thousands of dollars in electronics equipment stolen from the boy’s home.
Using a laptop and the “Find My iPhone” app, Max Malkin pinpointed the location of his mother’s iPhone, taken along with other items during a burglary early Saturday.
An officer “quarterbacked” the search from Malkin’s kitchen, communicating with officers on the street until a suspect was detained — and a well-timed phone call to the iPhone enabled police to recover the stolen loot, said Max’s father, Harold Malkin.
“When the phone rang,” Malkin said Tuesday, “the guy kind of knew the jig was up.”
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The 20-year-old man was arrested for investigation of possession of stolen property.
Officers recovered $4,000 worth of electronics stolen from the North Capitol Hill home in which Malkin, an assistant U.S. attorney, lives with his wife, Jennifer Porter, and their sons, Max and Leo, 11.
Malkin said he heard a noise around 2 a.m. Saturday coming from the main level of his house near 12th Avenue East and East Boston Street. He said he figured it was the family cat running around, so he fell back to sleep.
When he awoke hours later, he went downstairs and found the back door wide open. The door had been accidentally left unlocked, and Malkin hadn’t armed the home’s security system.
He quickly discovered that several items were missing — his U.S. Justice Department-issued BlackBerry, his wife’s iPhone, his iPad, a MacBook and an iPod Nano, as well as the family’s Xbox and Wii game systems. Also gone were $150 in cash and a brown, rolling duffel bag Malkin had bought for his wife’s upcoming trip to Europe.
Officer Kurt Knox responded to Malkin’s 911 call. After learning Porter had lost her iPhone months earlier and had used an app to locate it using GPS, Knox suggested they try tracking the stolen phone the same way, Malkin said.
Malkin, who didn’t know how to run the “Find My iPhone” program, woke Max up. The teen quickly got online, logged onto iCloud.com — the Apple site where products can be registered and tracked via GPS — and pulled up a map that showed the iPhone was in downtown Seattle. Knox broadcast the information over his police radio, directing West Precinct officers to the phone’s location.
“It was fascinating to watch them work together,” Malkin said of Max and Knox. “… From the time the laptop was opened to the time they got this guy, it was probably 15 minutes.”
An officer spotted a man with a large, rolling duffel bag at his feet inside the McDonald’s restaurant at Third Avenue and Pine Street, according to a police report. The man and the officer made eye contact, and the man immediately got up and left, the report says.
The officer followed him to the bus tunnel at Fourth Avenue and Pine and stopped him at the bottom of the stairs, the report says.
The officer radioed Knox, still in Malkin’s kitchen, and asked Malkin to dial the number to his wife’s iPhone.
Back in the bus tunnel, the phone started ringing and the man pulled it out of a jacket pocket, according to the police report.
Malkin and Knox drove downtown so Malkin could identify his belongings, which were found along with a woman’s Bank of America card and another computer, which also appears to have been stolen, according to the report.
The suspect, who initially was taken to Harborview Medical Center after vomiting in a West Precinct holding cell, was booked into the King County Jail on Sunday afternoon, according to the police report and jail records. The man could face a residential-burglary charge if fingerprints lifted from Malkin’s home place him inside the house, Malkin said.
Sunday’s jail booking was the man’s third this year.
Jail records show he was booked into the jail early Thursday on investigation of theft and criminal trespass. He was given a conditional release Friday afternoon, roughly 12 hours before the burglary at Malkin’s home. The man also was booked into the jail Jan. 7 on a drug charge and was released two days later, records show.
According to court records, he has convictions for second-degree burglary and second-degree possession of stolen property, as well as three drug convictions, along with several juvenile and adult misdemeanor convictions, mostly in Whatcom County. His last known address is in Lynden.
Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report.
Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654