This guy let a thief steal his phone, then followed him for weeks and made a documentary about it

It may not be a common theme around Christmas (it’s definitely more of a peace-on-earth, good-will-toward-men type of season) but film student Anthony van der Meer has worked hard to remind us that revenge is sweet. In Find My Phone — a final film project that we and its other 1.7 million viewers would def give a passing grade to — van der Meer tracks a stolen phone via secret installs and spyware to see where its thief is taking the phone and what kind of use he or she is getting out of it.

Yeah, it’s so badass.

This is the ultimate tale of justified revenge — does a phone thief really deserve cyber privacy? If you’ve stolen from someone without his consent, must he have consent before tracking what’s rightfully his? It’s a 20-minute trip down an existential rabbit hole that we all think we can handle, until that icky “all my info is available to everyone, OH GOD” feeling sinks in, like when Google ads start popping up on Facebook for things you shopped for mere seconds before.


The idea came from a time van der Meer’s phone was personally swiped during lunch on his Amsterdam-based campus. He reported it as stolen without any luck, as the thief had cut internet and ditched the SIM card, stat. Intrigued (and also freaked out about the vulnerability of basically being personal-info-naked in front of a stranger), van der Meer made sweet lemonade out of a complete garbage bag full of lemons.

“Losing such an expensive phone wasn’t even my biggest concern,” van der Meer narrates. “But the idea of a stranger having access to all my photos, videos, contacts, emails and messages… the way in which the thief worked made me wonder. What kind of person would steal a phone? And where do these phones end up?”


In a mini-doc that Business Insider aptly calls “equally thrilling and disturbing,” van der Meer explains how he loaded a new, decoy phone up with trackers and spyware and began leaving it out and unsupervised in hopes of it getting taken. Eventually he got his wish, and the following two weeks are explored to the fullest in Find My Phone.

This is Gone Girl level tension, so buckle up. And for those of us that get new phones over the holidays …Merry Christmas?