Police Use "Find My iPhone" App to Bust Burglars

Palo Alto Police arrested two suspects from out-of-town.

Tania Marin Starr and Gerald Wayne Elliott II have been charged with burglary and vehicle theft. (Photo: Santa Clara County Main Jail)
Tania Marin Starr and Gerald Wayne Elliott II have been charged with burglary and vehicle theft. (Photo: Santa Clara County Main Jail)

Two suspects accused of stealing thousands of dollars worth of electronics were arrested by Palo Alto Police. The pair was tracked by GPS software installed on one of the stolen devices. 

On Jan. 8, police received a call from an employee at the AT&T Foundry on Homer Avenue reporting that a burglary had occurred overnight. 

Officers responded and found that 15 cell phones, three laptop computers, an iPad, and other electronic items had been stolen, with a total approximate value of $14,000.

According to Police Lt. Zach Perron, “While officers were still on scene, a company employee used the ‘Find My iPhone’ app and was able to see that the stolen iPad had last been located in City Parking Lot C-6 at the corner of Sherman Avenue at Birch Street. 

“A patrol officer went to the parking lot and began walking between cars on the off chance they could see any of the stolen property in plain view inside any parked vehicles.  The officer saw a parked vehicle with a man seated in the passenger seat, and noticed that there were a large amount of items on the rear floorboard of the vehicle that were covered with a jacket.”

The officer watched the car from a distance. He ran the plates and found out that the registration was suspended.

A woman returned to the car and the pair drove off. The officer stopped the vehicle for the suspended registration. The pair was arrested. Police recovered all of the stolen electronics except for one cell phone. They also seized burglary tools from the vehicle.

Detectives learned that the vehicle was stolen from a dealership, but the theft hadn’t been reported.

Tania Marin Starr, 31, of Vallejo and Gerald Wayne Elliott II, 31, of San Francisco, were booked on charges of felony commercial burglary, felony vehicle theft, and misdemeanor possession of burglary tools.  

Investigators are trying to find out if the pair is connected with other burglaries.

Police urge everyone to install the  “Find My iPhone” app on their devices. However, Lt. Perron cautions, “If your portable electronic device is stolen or lost and you are using a remote application to track its location, notify your local law enforcement agency immediately and do not take independent action to attempt to recover your property.”

If you have information about this incident, call the 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413.  Anonymous tips can be e-mailed to paloalto@tipnow.org or sent via text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.


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