Man tracks stolen iPhone to migrant in Chicago police station lobby; charges filed

CHICAGO — When a man’s backpack went missing from the UIC outdoor field complex on July 15, he fired up the tracker on an iPhone in the bag and started following the pings. They led him directly to the lobby of the Near West (12th) District Chicago police station, 1412 South Blue Island. That’s about a half-mile from where the bag went missing.

Now, you might be thinking that a kind soul found his bag and gave it to the police to arrange its return. But, no. That’s not what happened.

Instead, the man found his backpack sitting on a stack of personal items belonging to one of the migrants living in the station lobby, a Chicago police report said. Inside the bag, the man allegedly found an identification belonging to Miguel Blanco Blanco, a 26-year-old migrant resident of the station lobby.

Chicago police officers arrested Blanco Blanco when he returned to the station shortly after 5 p.m.

He told them that he found the backpack outside the station, police said. Blanco Blanco took some identifications and keys from the bag and tossed them into the garbage, according to a CPD report. A Samsung phone that was inside the bag? He allegedly hid that in a bush at Fosco Park.

Miguel Blanco Blanco | Chicago Police Department; Google

And the iPhone? He said he gave it to his friend Gabriel, who also sleeps in the station lobby, the report said.

Blanco Blanco is now charged with theft of lost or mislaid property. He was released on his own recognizance.

In a strange coincidence, Blanco Blanco was arrested about two hours after another man was arrested in the 12th District station lobby for allegedly stealing phones from the resident migrants.

Two migrants saw 64-year-old Alan Roberson enter the station at 1453 South Blue Island earlier in the day and watched as he stole two phones that other migrants had left charging in the lobby, a Chicago police report said.

Chicago police arrested Roberson when he returned to the station later that day. He is charged with two counts of misdemeanor theft and obstruction of identification for allegedly giving cops a fake name and birthdate when they arrested him.

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Tim Hecke is CWBChicago's managing partner. He started his career at KMOX, the legendary news radio station in St. Louis. From there, he moved on to work at stations in Minneapolis, Chicago, and New York City. Tim went on to build syndicated radio news and content services that served every one of America's 100 largest radio markets. He became CWBChicago's managing partner in 2019. He can be reached at