Two bungling thieves who were jailed for stealing over £50,000 of mobile phones were caught when one of their victims activated a tracker app – which led police to their home.
Karim Bousaboun, 25, and Mehamad Maddahi, 22, made £51,488.71 by stealing expensive smart phones from handbags and pockets.
The duo targeted revellers in bars and nightclubs in Nottingham before passing the handsets to a criminal gang in their native Algeria who sold them on the black market.
Police uncovered the scam by chance after a student at the University of Nottingham had her iPhone 4 stolen in the city’s Stealth nightclub.
Bousaboun and Maddahi were unaware the 21-year-old had downloaded an app called ‘Find My iPhone’ which allowed her to lock it and even track its location.
The student, called Georgina, logged onto her laptop and found her phone was at an address on Radford Boulevard in Nottingham.
Detectives then raided the address and found her phone as well as 58 others that had been stolen from nightclubs in Nottingham, Derby and Sheffield between January and November 2012.
Maddahi was jailed for three years at Nottingham Crown Court after pleading guilty to conspiracy to steal mobile phones.
Meanwhile Bousaboun was sentenced to four years after being found guilty of the same offence following a trial.
Jailing the duo, Judge Andrew Hamilton told them: “The two of you acted as a gang. You target young people in Nottingham clubs.
“They were easy prey. Young people have their phones about them at all times these days.
“As a gang you worked out a system whereby in fact one of the gang would take the phone out of the nightclub and hand it to the person waiting outside.
“The fact is this netted you a considerable amount of money and this was clearly done as a very sophisticated scam.”
Prosecutor Ian Way told the court a third man had been bailed and was believed to have left the country.
Speaking after the hearing, the student who helped expose the scam said: “The night was ruined, so I went home and got straight on my laptop to see if I could find it on the ‘Find My iPhone’ app.
“They must have turned the phone off because the app couldn’t find it, but at midday the next day they must have turned it on for a few minutes because I got a hit.”
Detective Constable Perveez Rashid, from Nottinghamshire Police, said 60 per cent of the phones they found had not been reported stolen and were presumed lost.
He said: “With Bousaboun and Maddahi now in jail, and their illicit enterprise dismantled, we have gone a long way to reducing this type of crime.”
Will they be deported after their jail term?