A GROUP of burglary victims turned the tables on an alleged thief when they tracked him down using an iPhone app.

Network Rail employee Stuart Johnston, along with five other colleagues, was left devastated when they returned to their van and discovered its windows had smashed and items had been stolen from inside.

The vehicle was parked at St Denys railway station on Monday, August 20, when it was broken into.

Bank cards, iPads, mobile phones and wallets were all taken from hiding places inside.

Despite their anger, Mr Johnston and his colleagues hatched a plan to get their items back.

They discovered that one of the stolen cards had been used at a nearby shop, and inspiration struck.

One of the group suggested using the Find an iPhone app, which allows users to pinpoint the location of their device using GPS.

They quickly found a match and a location of where some of the items were, and they began their hunt to find the thieves.

Three of the group managed to pinpoint someone they believed had one of their phones outside Royal South Hants Hospital, in the city centre.

Taking matters into their own hands, they apprehended one of the men before handing him over to police when they arrived.

"It was gutting," Mr Johnston, 30, said.

"We thought we had lost everything. We tucked the items away so they weren't on show, so it was disappointing.

"You hear stories about other people's vans getting hit but we didn't think it would happen to us while we were working."

He said that after tracking down one of the people they believed was involved, they quickly located their belongings.

"When we spoke to him, the man told us where all of our equipment had been hidden", he said.

"It looked like he scattered it across Southampton in places like Aldi, on Empress Road, and in woodland near Drummond Drive."

He added: "We're really lucky to have found the gear. Thankfully we managed to find the people who did this."

A spokesperson for Hampshire Constabulary confirmed that a 29-year-old man from Southampton has been arrested on suspicion of theft, fraud and criminal damage.

The force added that he has since been released from custody but remains under investigation.


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