Information derived from a mobile phone tracking app is "insufficient evidence" to give police power to search a property for stolen goods, an Auckland criminal lawyer says.
Despite providing information from her "Find My iPhone" app, Auckland Central police officers refused to accompany Thai national Shina Jeamjanya, 25, to an address where her stolen $1000 iPhone 6 was polling.
"Even if the app can accurately point out where the device was, it would still not be considered sufficient evidence for police to search and enter a premises under the Search and Surveillance Act," said criminal law specialist Michael Kan.
"For the individual concerned, however, he or she will not be breaking any law by door knocking the property and enquire if the stolen item was there."
But police could still accompany the victim to the property without breaching the law, Mr Kan said.
"Police are right for not searching the property, but unless they have other reasons, it should not have stopped them from going with the victim to the property," said Mr Kan.
A snatch-and-run victim used a mobile phone tracking app to find the address of her alleged perpetrators.
Miss Jeamjanya had been in New Zealand for just a week when she was accosted by three teenage girls at Aotea Square on April 18.
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.
Two accused her of having sex with their boyfriends, while a third snatched her phone.
Using her laptop to track the phone, Miss Jeamjanya asked police to go with her to the address.
But police refused and told her 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.
A spokeswoman said it did not give the police any power of search and entry on an emergency basis.
After police refused to help, she enlisted the help of a taxi driver and went to the house to retrieve her stolen phone.
The driver took her to the Madigan Place address and waited as she demanded the return of her iPhone.
A Maori woman, who answered the door at the house, handed back her phone.