If you are working a tough missing person case it’s important not to overlook cell phone forensics and deleted data recovery. An incredible amount of information can be recovered from a persons cell phone. Deleted texts, pics, contacts and emails, but with the iPhone we have the additional location tracking information. This information can go back as far as two years and can pinpoint actual addresses as well as general areas of travel for an iPhone or iPad.
Of course cell phone forensics is only one part of a missing person investigation. The investigator must still follow all the normal routine steps of investigation like credit card bills, cell phone bills, email tracing, and interviewing friends, family and coworkers. But in this article we want to focus on cell phone forensics and specifically the iPhone.
Another unique feature to the iPhone or iPad is that people that use these devices will commonly back up the files to their computer. It is not widely known butt you don’t need to have the physical phone itself. The back up files can be examined and deleted data can be recovered from the files. This fact is especially important considering that many times when a person goes missing, their phone or iPad will go missing with them.
The way that the location tracking works is that the phone maintains a record of every cell tower that the phone ever hits on up a radius of 700 acres. The phone will also store every WIFI location the phone has ever connected to. This information can pin point to an exact address.
This kind of historical location tracking can be used to establish a historical routine pattern of movement for the subject. If this person has visited the same coffee shop every morning at 8 AM for two years it’s likely they will return there. Likewise with dry cleaners and barber shops. These are the types of semi anonymous haunts that a person that is “on the run” or gone missing may still frequent even if they are trying to avoid being found.
Cell phone forensics, deleted data recover and iPhone location tracking are an excellent souse of information when investigating a missing person case. Remember even if the phone is missing as well you may find the back up files on their computer. These files can be examined as well.
The back up files can contain, contacts, address book, numbers dialed and SMS or text messages. This is extremely valuable information in a missing persons investigation.
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