Ahh, the iPhone.
It's a phone. It's an iPod. It's a "revolutionary Internet device."
And, as one crook found out, with Apple's MobileMe service, it's also a crime-fighting tool.
Pardon this quick explanation if you already know about MobileMe:
It's a premium service offered by Apple by which to wirelessly keep all of your contacts, calendars and bookmarks synced between your phone, the Internet and a desktop computer.
Back to our story: It seems that one reader to The Unofficial Apple Weblog had his iPhone stolen while he was at the dry cleaner.
He immediately chalked it up as gone forever, and proceeded to purchase a brand new one that same evening.
The next day, the down-but-not-out iPhone owner began noticing unfamiliar contacts appearing on his new phone.
The (not-too-bright) thief was unwittingly supplying him with names and phone numbers of his or her closest friends, via the magic of MobileMe synchronization from the stolen phone to the Internet and eventually to his new phone.
"It didn't take long for me to realize that MobileMe was leading me right to the thief," the owner wrote.
Thanks to the fact that he caught on to it before he'd had time to remotely disconnect his account, MobileMe provided the groundwork for a little social reverse-engineering.
He made quick work of wrangling a name and phone number from the provided contacts and supplied the police with everything they needed to track the culprit down and get the phone back.
Now the owner of two iPhones, he's keeping the newest one and put the recovered one, which is "pretty much brand new," up for auction on eBay.