The Huffington Post David Moye First Posted: 01/08/13 EST Updated: 01/09/13 EST
Hell hath no fury like a guy trying to track down his stolen iPhone.
When Kenneth Schmidgall's iPhone went missing, he went on an investigation that would make Sherlock Holmes proud -- except for maybe the violent confrontation that culminated in him getting the phone back.
Schmidgall, who lives in San Diego with his roommate, Greg Torkelson, a freelance news photographer, used the Find My iPhone app to track down the device. The app ultimately led Schmidgall and Torkelson to a guy riding his bicycle down near Torrey Pines State Beach.
"I wasn't looking for a confrontation. I just wanted the phone back," Schmidgall told The Huffington Post from the once-stolen iPhone.
Schmidgall, a 26-year-old construction worker, had lost the phone while attending a reggae concert on Dec. 28.
"I went to put some stuff in Greg's car and I think I set the phone on the sidewalk and it was taken," he said.
After the phone went missing, Schmidgall used the app to keep tabs on it.
"I saw it stationary at a bike shop in Encinitas, but then it started moving around, and I got the idea that whoever had it was trying to sell it near the beach," he said.
That's when Schmidgall and Torkelson decided to follow the phone in hopes of retrieving it.
They eventually discovered that the person with the phone was a man on a bike, about 5 feet, 10 inches, 180 pounds who, by Schmidgall's estimation was "probably in his 30s."
"I saw the gentleman on the bike and we followed it and kept tracking it and every time it would stop, the guy on the bike would stop," Schmidgall told KGTV-TV.
The alleged thief managed to ditch their hot pursuit three times before they cornered him on the beach after calling the police. Torkelson documented the encounter with his camera, but brought another accessory as well: pepper spray.
"If I'm responding to a crime scene before the police are there, I have it on hand," he told HuffPost.
The altercation between the still-unidentified suspect and Schmidgall lasted 18 minutes and got violent when the alleged iPhone thief hit Schmidgall while holding a a rock in his hand.
"I got a cut on the lip and a few scratches, but it wasn't a technical punch. He just shoved his hand in my face," Schmidgall said.
The fight continued until Schmidgall managed to get the alleged thief on the sand and hold him there.
"He said, 'Do you want your cellphone?' and pulled it out of the pocket like he was going to throw it in the ocean," he said.
During the fracas, Torkelson pepper sprayed the guy and Schmidgall suspects the guy may have been on drugs "because he kept going even after he was sprayed."
A police officer eventually took the alleged thief into custody and Schmidgall was reunited with the phone.
"I had to wait until I was home to unlock it," he said. "The battery was almost dead. I'm surprised the guy didn't ditch it."
Despite having to fight for the phone, Schmidgall believes it was worth it in the end.
"I don't think everyone should get in a fight for their phone, but I want people to know that if it's taken, there's something they can do to get it back," he said.
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