They're not exactly Starsky and Hutch, but they are quite a duo. Crime fighters, even.
Nicole Johnson and Jennifer Hodgins work the breakfast shift at the Pok-A-Dot most mornings. They pretty much know all the customers and the customers know them. A morning at the Dot when both are working is, well, entertaining.
That's one reason Jen was more than a little perturbed when a customer -- not a regular, but not a first-timer either -- stole Jen's iPhone.
The phone cost Jen $700 cold hard cash because she's not on a contract.
"My boyfriend, John, was using the phone and he set it down," Jen said. "I went to the bathroom and came back five minutes later. The phone was gone."
Jen tried calling the phone and found it was turned off.
"Our customers like to play pranks on us all the time, so at first we were thinking that was what was going on," Johnson said.
Niki and Jen have their phones set up so each can use the iPhone app "Find My Phone" to find each other's phones.
When Niki arrived at work, Niki used "Find My Phone" to lock Jen's phone and alert her if it was turned back on.
They also filed a police report.
About an hour later, the phone came on. It was on North Spruce Street.
Jen and a customer headed over to North Spruce and found the car they believed had been driven by the customer who stole it. They followed the car, but the driver sped away.
The information was given to police and an officer warned Jen about trying to chase down criminals. He also said the police would follow up.
"The phone was locked up and he couldn't do anything with it," Johnson said. "All this kid could do was turn off and on."
By the next evening, no word from the police and with the phone off, Niki couldn't track it.
Then it popped back on.
The phone was moving down Route 33 and Jen and Niki feared it was headed toward Rochester never to be seen again.
John hopped in his car and started down Route 33.
Niki started pinging the phone -- making it sound a tone repeatedly -- and sending it messages.
"We kept saying, 'we want the phone back no questions asked. Just leave the phone some place where we can find it. We won't pursue you. We just want the phone back."
About five minutes later, the phone stopped moving. The person who had it ditched it by the side of the road and John found it.
The women were elated.
"We were literally two 30-year-old women who kind of went back to our 14-year-old selves," Johnson said. "We had a major happy dance. It went on for about five minutes."
Johnson said they were so excited because, "I don't know one person who's had a phone stolen, literally, actually stolen, and gotten their phone back."
Interestingly, the feature Johnson and Hodgins used to get the phone back is under attack.
Apple is being sued by a group of lawyers who claim their client owns the patent for the feature that allows a computer to track a phone.
The patent was filed in 1995.
According to the Gigaom article, there are people known as patent trolls who buy patents that never made it from the drawing board to an actual product and then look for products that appear to infringe on the patent. Then, they sue. That appears to be the case with the "Find My Phone" lawsuit, but if the suit prevails it could spell the end for a very useful feature for recovering lost or stolen phones.
There are an estimated 1.8 million smartphones stolen every year. Thieves can use the phones for identity theft or sell the phones overseas for good money.
Other smartphone makers are looking into creating "kill switches" similar to what Apple provides its customers with iPhones.
Here's an article on how to use "Find My Phone." If you have a Droid, there are apps available to help protect your device against theft.