iPhone app leads police to crime spree suspects

tmcdonald@newsobserver.comSeptember 21, 2012 

— An iPhone stolen Thursday was an unexpected assist for police, who were able to use the phone’s Life 360 app to track three men as they went on what appears to be a mini crime spree that possibly included the shooting of a Durham teen.

Terrance Devon Lloyd, 22, Ali-Jamal L-Rasheed Hanberry, 20, and Samuel Gerald White, 22, all of Durham, were apprehended early Friday and now face multiple charges from both Raleigh and Durham police.

It started just after 7 p.m. Thursday when Albert P. Ridge, 20, who works as a mechanic at the Glenwood Avenue Exxon, was filling the tires of a customer’s car. He noticed a blue Toyota Corolla with a driver and two passengers pull up in front of a gas pump.

The two passengers got out of the car and walked to a Harris Teeter grocery at the intersection of Glenwood Avenue and Oberlin Road. The driver went into the store to pay for $3 in gas.

“He came outside and asked, ‘Does anybody work here?’ ” Ridge, of Cary, said.

When Ridge went back in the store, he noticed a pack of Newport cigarettes and his iPhone that he had left sitting on the counter were gone. He phoned police from the store to report it, then called his girlfriend.

Ridge’s girlfriend arrived with her iPhone in hand, and the officer who responded also downloaded the Life 360 app, which works like a Global Positioning System, so that both Ridge and the police could track his stolen phone.

The officer told Ridge that he would simply drive to the location indicated by the app and apprehend the thief.

Ridge said about 10 minutes passed and the officer who had just left the service station called again.

“He said, ‘This has become a little more serious,’ ” Ridge said. “ ‘The guy who took your phone has robbed somebody at gunpoint on Capital Boulevard.’ ”

Raleigh police spokesman Jim Sughrue said Jose Ladys Calderon-Benegas, 46, of Raleigh was walking in front of the Food Lion grocery in Mini City when a blue Toyota pulled alongside him.

“A passenger gets out of the vehicle, headed his way with a handgun,” Sughrue said.

The robbery, however, was unsuccessful because the Spanish-speaking Calderon-Benegas could not understand the suspect’s demands.

Ten minutes after that robbery attempt, police say a delivery driver with Papa John’s Pizza was robbed of cash and pizza in the 4800 block of Tapers Drive.

“Two suspects approached the victim,” Sughrue said. “One implied that he had a weapon.”

Once again, the physical description of the car and suspects matched the robbery attempt at Mini City and the iPhone larceny, Sughrue confirmed.

“He was going to different addresses, mostly stores. They were moving pretty rapidly, then they would be gone,” Ridge said about the men in the blue Toyota.

Phone tracked to Durham

Police declined to say where the men in the Toyota went after the pizza robbery, but Ridge and his girlfriend were still using her phone’s app to track his iPhone. The device tracked Ridge’s iPhone to Interstate 540 and then to Durham – first to Cecil Street and then Fitzgerald Avenue.

Durham police said that about 9:15 p.m., a 16-year-old girl was shot in the leg when she was robbed by four men in a blue car near Grant and Merrick streets. They robbed her of $5 and her cell phone.

Durham police spokeswoman Kammie Michael declined to comment on whether investigators think the suspects sought in the Raleigh crimes are the same men responsible for the shooting and robbery in Durham.

But Raleigh police followed the iPhone trail to a residence on the 2200 block of Fitzgerald Avenue in Durham where Lloyd, Hanberry and White were taken into custody.

The three men were in custody at the Durham County jail Friday evening.

White’s bail is set at $3 million. He is charged with possession of a stolen motor vehicle, larceny of a motor vehicle, robbery with a dangerous weapon, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, felony conspiracy, attempted robbery and larceny of an iPhone.

Lloyd’s bail is set at $3,251,000. He’s charged with assault on a female, possession of marijuana greater than a half ounce, two counts of armed robbery, one count of attempted armed robbery, two counts of conspiracy to commit armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, felony conspiracy, and possession of a stolen vehicle.

Hanberry’s bail is set at $3,060,000. He is charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, two counts of armed robbery, two counts of felony conspiracy, felony probation violation, possession of a stolen vehicle, and attempted armed robbery.

McDonald: 919-829-4533

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service