SALT LAKE CITY — The victims of a car burglary were able to turn the tables on the alleged thieves with some basic smartphone technology, and police believe the same people may be connected to hundreds of similar crimes across the Salt Lake Valley.
After attending a Utah Jazz game Tuesday night, Taylor Hill and Gentry Phillips returned to a parking lot near South Temple and 400 West to discover that Phillips’ car had a shattered window.
“I came to my driver’s side, and Taylor came on to the other side, and I think we both maybe said some expletives,” Phillips said.
Hill’s car keys, textbooks and MacBook were missing.
“I just couldn’t believe it. You never think it will happen to you,” he said.
Hill still had his iPhone and the Find My iPhone app that allowed him to pinpoint his sleeping computer to a location in Taylorsville. He immediately contacted police.
Unified Police Lt. Brian Lohrke said officers arrived at a residence near 4750 South and Meadow Wood Way and began to search.
“Police were able to locate the (computer) that was missing in plain view inside a vehicle,” he said.
Lohrke said officers then waited for the owners of that vehicle to return, and when they did, they arrested Tyler Angelos, 28, and Elisha Wiley, 26.
“(Police) took them in custody, ended up writing a search warrant not only for the vehicles but the residence they came out of,” Lohrke said.
Investigators said they subsequently uncovered between 250 and 300 purses, bags, mail, laptops and other electronics they believe had been stolen.
“Right now we’re looking at hundreds and hundreds of cases involving vehicle burglaries from the Salt Lake Valley,” Lohrke said.
The investigation is ongoing, he said, and it likely will take some time for the stolen property to be returned to its rightful owners.
Hill and Phillips said they were grateful police were able to get to the bottom of their case swiftly. Hill said he received his laptop back within four hours of the burglary.
“I didn’t expect justice to be that swift,” he said. “(Unified) police did an excellent job.”