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Teenager murdered after tracking down lost smartphone

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A Canadian teenager was shot and killed Sunday after an attempt to recover his lost smartphone took a tragic turn. Eighteen-year-old Jeremy Cook accidentally left his phone in a cab over the weekend, police believe — a scenario that's played out countless times in cities around the world. And just as every other person in this situation would instinctively do, Cook turned to tracking software in hopes of reclaiming it.

Both Apple and Google offer apps that can help you pinpoint a misplaced or stolen smartphone: Find My iPhone in the case of iOS, and Device Manager for Android. These tools have reunited many of us with our (expensive) smartphones, but they can also lead to some precarious situations. Last year The New York Times reported on some of the more distressing examples. People are out there carrying around hammers for protection as they seek out thieves, and others have physically assaulted innocent bystanders when the geolocation for these tracking apps is slightly off. In that story, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department tried to remind everyone to stay levelheaded. "It’s just a phone — it’s not worth losing your life over," Andrew Smith told the Times. And now, appallingly, someone has been murdered over a phone.

Jeremy Cook 2

Authorities believe Cook traced the missing phone to a parking lot and headed there at around 5AM Sunday. He had the sense not to go alone; his sister is believed to have accompanied him. But when the pair arrived, they quickly got into an altercation with three men in a parked car. As Cook went to retrieve his phone, the car began driving away. That's when everything went very bad, very quickly. According to NBC News, Cook leapt onto the driver side door and held on as the vehicle began moving. Within seconds, multiple shots were fired, and when police arrived, Cook was pronounced dead at the scene.

Eventually the car was found abandoned nearby, having apparently struck a fence and telephone pole — with Cook's stolen smartphone inside. Police are still searching for three male suspects in the senseless murder, and have called for people to use extreme caution when seeking out their missing property. "'The app itself is a great tool to have," Steeves told CBC. "But if you suspect there's any potential for violence at all, we certainly encourage people to contact police."