Stolen phone in Colchester sends mystery "selfie"


Texting Emoji

A stolen mobile phone has taken the matter of catching the thief who took it into its own hands - by emailing a a "selfie" of a mystery man back to its owner.

Essex Police, who are investigating the crime committed in a park in Colchester, are now keen to talk to the man in the photo.

The photo was taken thanks to a security device that automatically took a photo when the wrong PIN code was entered into the HTC phone.

The belief is therefore that the man, who is described as white with thick eyebrows, took the picture inadvertently while trying to unlock the phone, which was stolen from a student while he was out walking in Wivenhoe Park, Colchester on Thursday evening.

Mobile users keen to protect their phones by installing a security application that will take a photo of the person trying to unlock them without knowing the code can choose from a number of apps such as Lookout, which also sends the phone owner a GPS location of where the thief was when trying to unlock the device.

Such apps have already helped the police to catch several phone thieves, including a Yorkshire thief who stole Duncan Paylor's phone in February.

And the hope is that they will help to reunite more stolen phones with their owners, just one in five of whom get their phones back according to current figures.

Security apps are not always required to catch mobile phone thieves, though. A "brainless thief" who stole a 12-year-old boy's Blackberry in Eseex last October used it just hours later to post a selfie on Whatsapp - a messenger service - sending it to the boy's Mum, who was still listed as a contact.

And Anthony Rutter of Camborne in Cornwall landed himself in hot water by uploading a selfie that ended up on his victim's Google account.

The mobile phone selfie trend is even helping to put more serious thieves behind bars.

Burglar Ashley Keast was jailed for two years and eight months after using a sim card stolen from the owners of the house he was in the process of robbing to put a selfie on whatsapp and unwittingly sending it to his victims' work colleagues in the process.