Thief photographed by iPhone app

Image of thief Brian Chattoo, taken by iPhone app. (NYPD/WCBS)

A 23-year-old thief, identified by Queens Police as Brian Chattoo, was arrested at his home in Richmond Hill on Friday according to CBS station WCBS. Chattoo is being charged with criminal possession of stolen property, and grand larceny, for allegedly stealing an iPhone from a woman’s pocket on Liberty Avenue on Monday.

Police were able to catch the thief only after the phone’s owner informed them that she had obtained a photo of the man who had robbed her. The 31-year-old woman, identified as Erum Malik by the New York Daily News, had recently purchased and installed the third party anti-theft application, iGotYa, on her new iPhone 4. The application takes a photograph of any person who attempts to unlock the smartphone by entering an incorrect password. The anti-theft app then emails the photo to the owner, along with the phone’s location via the GPS.

Malik first attempted to retrieve the phone herself, without notifying the authorities, by calling and sending text messages offering cash in exchange for the phone. She then traveled to the approximate location of her phone, and began showing the picture of the thief throughout the neighborhood. Finally, Malik called the police.

The woman claims that police initially thought that she was joking, but after further explanation, released the photo along with a physical description of the mugger. According to a police spokesperson, officers recognized the man from the wanted poster on Friday, and made the arrest. It remained unclear whether Chattoo had obtained a lawyer.