California

Stolen Apple Watch helps victim track suspects to California Walmart, cops say

Police said a woman in Redding, California, used a stolen Apple Watch’s GPS to track down two burglary suspects, 43-year-old Mike Leyva, left, and 40-year-old Marlin Pierson, right.
Police said a woman in Redding, California, used a stolen Apple Watch’s GPS to track down two burglary suspects, 43-year-old Mike Leyva, left, and 40-year-old Marlin Pierson, right. Redding Police Department

Stealing an Apple Watch can have GPS-tracking implications, as a pair of Northern California burglary suspects learned Thursday, according to police.

A 25-year-old woman left her Redding home unlocked in the morning while she took her child to school because her husband was still home, police said in a news release. But when the woman returned home around 8 a.m., she spotted a “suspicious” vehicle across the street — as well as a man wearing a mask, according to police.

The woman used her garage to walk into her house and saw that the front door was open, so she yelled to wake up her husband and soon realized that belongings were missing, “leading her to believe the residence had just been burglarized,” police said.

Among the possessions that had disappeared: an Apple Watch, according to the news release.

Because the watch had GPS capabilities, the woman checked to see where it was and discovered the stolen device was quickly heading north, away from her house in East Redding, police said.

The woman couldn’t describe what the suspicious car looked like to an officer who responded, but the woman told the officer she’d know it if she saw it, so she and the officer checked the Apple Watch again and saw that it looked like it was near a Walmart, police said.

The officer then “watched as the tracking device shut off,” according to police.

The officer gave the woman a lift to the Walmart to see if they could identify the car she’d seen outside her home around the time of the reported burglary, and the woman “immediately saw the suspect vehicle parked in the parking lot,” police said.

Police detained the two men as they left the 1996 Toyota 4Runner the woman had pointed out, according to the news release.

As an officer interviewed the two men, he spotted the Apple Watch in one of their back pockets, police said. During the rest of that interview, the men, Mike Leyva, 43, and Marlin Pierson, 40, both of Redding, were caught in “enough lies that Leyva and Pierson ultimately admitted to their parts in the theft,” according to the news release.

Police said both men at first said they weren’t involved in the burglary. The woman got her Apple Watch back, according to police, but a phone is still missing.

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Both men were booked on charges of conspiracy to commit burglary and burglary at the Shasta County Jail. Pierson faces an additional charge because he was on parole during the alleged crime, police said. Leyva is the suspect who had the watch sticking out of his pants, according to police.

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Jared Gilmour is a McClatchy national reporter based in San Francisco. He covers everything from health and science to politics and crime. He studied journalism at Northwestern University and grew up in North Dakota.


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