Lake Worth man uses 'cloud' to find stolen iPad

PBSO investigating after Lake Worth burglary

After thieves stole his iPad in a burglary, Claudius Tapia used the so-called cloud to find his stolen tablet and get it back.

He also believes the cloud-based Find My iPad application brought him to two young men whom he suspects broke into his house. The cloud refers to the relatively new online network of data servers that computer and smartphone users can use to store their data, then access it from anywhere, from any cloud-friendly device.

Tapia feels deputies with the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office could've made a quick arrest in the burglary, thanks to the cloud.

"I've been let down tremendously by the police," Tapia said Monday, saying that deputies didn't respond fast enough when he found his iPad behind a Greenacres apartment building.

A spokesperson with the Sheriff's Office said it's understandable that Tapia would be frustrated after the burglary. But Teri Barbera said police need to first find evidence before making an arrest.

"That's all we have right now: individuals who are in possession of stolen property," said Barbera, the Sheriff's Office spokeswoman. "It's part of our investigation to determine whether or not they are the suspects in this crime. And that very much is still ongoing."

Tapia's ordeal began on the afternoon of July 24, when he got a call from his wife Rebecca Leon, informing him of a break-in at their home near Jog and Lantana roads. Thieves had taken jewelry, electronic items including the iPad and other items. A Sheriff's Office deputy took a report.

After logging on to the Find My iPad application at 5 a.m. on July 25, Tapia, 27, saw that his iPad had been powered up. He could even see the tablet's location – it was somewhere in Greenacres. He had also activated an alarm device that causes the device to beep loudly. He called the Sheriff's Office, who came out and took another report.

Later in the morning, Tapia called the Sheriff's Office again. A dispatcher said Greenacres isn't their jurisdiction and suggested he call Greenacres Police, Tapia said.

Along with a Greenacres officer, Tapia and his father went out to the an apartment building on Pine Circle in Greenacres. They found the beeping iPad under some bushes behind a unit.

The Greenacres officer held two people, one of whom Tapia said admitted to throwing the iPad out the window.

Because the burglary happened in the Sheriff's Office jurisdiction, Greenacres couldn't make an arrest or hold the males without PBSO giving them the OK to do so. When that OK didn't come, the two young men were free to go at about 11:30 a.m. Capt. Gina Abbananto of Greenacres Police couldn't discuss the incident Monday because the burglary is being investigated by sheriff's deputies.

When a Sheriff's Office detective went out to the apartment at about 3:30 p.m., the young men were gone.

"The captain feels there has been a breakdown in communication and he is going to hold those individuals accountable for it," Barbera said, referring to Capt. Mark Murray, who oversees the District 6 command area, Western Boynton Beach .

bsclarkson@tribune.com , 561-243-6609, Twitter @BrettClarkson_

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