Coachella Super Sleuths: Festival-Goers Use App to Track Phone Thief

A group of Coachella Music and Arts Festival attendees found themselves unlikely detectives over the weekend after noticing that their phones had gone missing.

Image: Reinaldo De Jesus Henao
Indio police say Reinaldo De Jesus Henao, 36, was caught at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival with more than 100 stolen phones in his backpack. Indio Police Department

The victims turned to the “Find My iPhone” app, which led them straight to Reinaldo De Jesus Henao, a 36 year-old man with a backpack full of more than 100 stolen cellphones, Indio police said.

With social media such a large part of Coachella's culture — the fashion, food, music, and art are Snapchat and Instagram ready — it didn’t take long for several festival-goers to notice that their phones had disappeared.

"[We were] taking pictures then we went to post the photo," Laura Hunt Little told NBC affiliate KMIR. "And my phone is gone."

"People who lost their phones, or had them stolen, were tracking it," said Little. The group followed Henao throughout the festival venue until he was detained by security and eventually arrested by Indio Police.

Police searched Henao’s backpack and found the stolen cellphones. He was taken to the Larry D. Smith Correctional Center and booked on suspicion of grand theft and receiving stolen property. He was released after posting $10,000 bail, according to inmate records.

Image: 2017 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival
Festivalgoers attend the Gobi tent during the Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival at Empire Polo Club in Indio, California on on April 15, 2017. Rich Fury / Getty Images for Coachella

"That type of crime lends itself to what concerts are all about, a lot of people, close proximity, a lot of bumping," said Indio Police Sgt. Dan Marshall. "People carry their phones to have easy access to them, well if it's easy for you to access, it's easy for someone else to access.”

Indio police urged people to take extra caution with their valuables in scenarios like the crowded music festival.

The department worked through the weekend to reunite the stolen phones with their owners. All remaining phones can be claimed on the Coachella Lost and Found website.

"Glad to have my phone back, so glad...ugh," said Laura Hunt Little.