Lincoln Tan is the New Zealand Herald’s diversity, ethnic affairs and immigration senior reporter.

Theft victim traces phone: 'I couldn't have done it without the driver'

Woman enlists taxi driver after police say they can’t help.

A snatch-and-run victim used a mobile phone tracking app to find the address of her alleged perpetrators.

When police refused to help, she enlisted the help of a taxi driver and went to the house to retrieve her stolen $1000 iPhone 6.

Thai national Shina Jeamjanya, 25, had been in New Zealand for just a week when she was accosted by three teenage girls at Aotea Square on a Monday night.


A police spokeswoman yesterday confirmed the incident on April 18 where a cellphone was taken from Miss Jeamjanya on Queen St.

Investigations were continuing, she said, and police were following "positive lines of inquiry" to identify the people responsible.

Miss Jeamjanya, who holds a working holiday visa, said she had been told that Auckland was a safe city and didn't think crime happened "so openly" in the central city.

She was walking home to her Upper Queen St apartment from Mai Thai Restaurant on Victoria St, where she worked as a waitress, when the trio approached her.

"One accused me of having sex with her boyfriend ... I kept saying no, no, you got the wrong person," Miss Jeamjanya said.

"The next thing I knew, a third girl just grabbed my cellphone and they all started running away."

Miss Jeamjanya said the incident left her shaken and scared, but she managed to borrow a phone to call the police and later went to Auckland Central to lodge a report.

Using her laptop to track the phone, Miss Jeamjanya returned to the station the next day asking police to go with her to the address but was told the iPhone app was unreliable and they could not do anything.

Police confirmed they received the app information from Miss Jeamjanya but said it was not showing a specific address. The spokeswoman said this did not give the police any power of search and entry on an emergency basis.

Miss Jeamjanya then left the station and turned her plea for help to a taxi driver instead.

The driver took her to the Madigan Place address and waited as she demanded the return of her iPhone.

"I couldn't have done it without the driver," Miss Jeamjanya said.

Mai Thai owner and Auckland Thai community leader Songvut Manoonpong said it was "utterly irresponsible" of police to not help a victim of crime.

Phone tracker

• An app in the iPhone 6 let Shina Jeamjanya track down the device.

• The software helped locate the smartphone and prevent use of its data.

- NZ Herald

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