How Dropbox helped a 'Yolanda' volunteer 'meet' the man who has her phone

Alora Uy Guerrero
·Editor. You may tweet her at @aloraguerrero.
This selfie of the man who supposedly stole PR practitioner NJ Torres' Samsung Galaxy S4 was automatically uploaded to file-sharing app Dropbox.
This selfie of the man who supposedly stole PR practitioner NJ Torres' Samsung Galaxy S4 was automatically uploaded to file-sharing app Dropbox.

(UPDATE, November 27: Suspected 'selfie' phone thief comes out)

Technology can either make you or break you. Unfortunately for the man in the pictures that are making the rounds on social networks, it’s the latter. He is now being accused of stealing a phone at one of the relief centers for typhoon “Yolanda” survivors.

Apparently, he hasn’t turned off the feature of file-sharing app Dropbox that automatically uploads photos and videos taken with a handset, tablet, or camera. 

This means that every time he takes pictures and clips, the original phone owner gets them on her device as well.

On November 19, PR practitioner NJ Torres was at the Villamor Air Base with friends to extend help to typhoon survivors coming from Leyte and other provinces.

“We were there for the 7 p.m. slot, and we were in charge of packing and distributing relief goods,” Torres said in an interview with Yahoo Philippines. “Before the second batch of about 200 ‘Yolanda’ evacuees arrived, I noticed this guy lingering in our area.”   

She said the man stood out because he was wearing a light pink shirt. “And he was just standing there. He was not helping,” Torres added.  

She was irritated at first, but then she figured he must be from the group that was in charge of the food and that he was just tired.  

However, Torres still warned her friends, “Hold on to your things; someone keeps looking here.” 

In hindsight, it was an irony because after about one to two minutes of attending to the “Yolanda” evacuees who arrived at about 7:30 p.m., she discovered that her three-month-old Samsung Galaxy S4 and her wallet were lost.   

“In my wallet were P5,000 cash, my driver’s license, my company and TIN IDs, credit and discount cards, and some pictures,” Torres said. 

She added, “My friends and I already suspected that the guy in the light pink shirt, who could not be found at the time of the incident, was the one who stole my belongings.”   

Torres told Yahoo Philippines her suspicion was confirmed when she bought a new smartphone on November 21. 

“I installed Dropbox and poof! Synced to my new handset were photos of our suspect!” she revealed. 

SEE ALSO: Upgrade Your Life: Dropbox and other amazing free software

“I was so mad because I went to Villamor to help survivors of ‘Yolanda,’ but then I became a victim myself,” Torres said. “You’re there for a good cause, and you wouldn’t think that people are going to steal your bags.” 

Reporting the incident to the police was a futile attempt for her. “It was frustrating at best; the police don’t even know how Dropbox works.” 

Torres then decided to tell her story on Facebook. 

“I want to teach him a lesson,” she explained. “I know it’s mean, but what he did to me was also mean.”   

What of some people's comments that the man may have just bought the phone in Greenhills?

“Sorry, but that's impossible because the first picture he took with my S4 was taken at about the same time I lost my phone. I’m 1,000 percent sure that he stole my belongings,” Torres said. “With all the media attention that this story is getting now, I’m sure he knows that he’s already infamous because I have not received any new photos from him today.”  

Addressing the “man in the pink shirt,” Torres said, “If you’re not really a thief, then be man enough to face me.”