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Woman says she tracked stolen iPhone to Starbucks and got thrown out

A Houston woman says she traced her allegedly stolen iPhone 6, which she'd handed to a teen to call his mom, to a local Starbucks. However, she claims she was barred by her barista.

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Jana Erwin says that no one wanted to help her get her iPhone 6 back. ABC13 Houston screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Call me antisocial, but I tend not to hand over my phone to strangers. Bad things can happen.

Jana Erwin is a little more public spirited. When a teen knocked on her door on Monday morning and said he needed to call his mom, she said she asked him first for the number. She dialed it for him, then handed him the phone.

Then, as surveillance video shows, the teen ran off with her iPhone 6.

As ABC 13 in Houston reports, Erwin first screamed for help, claiming she'd been robbed. No one helped. Then she opened her laptop, looked at her Find My Phone app and saw that her phone was now having a coffee at a nearby Starbucks (as it were).

She said she walked in, saw the teen (who was with a lady friend) and her phone. She said she reached for her phone. The teen's lady friend allegedly claimed that she knew nothing about this, other than that the teen was trying to sell her the phone.

However Erwin says she then heard another voice: "I'm sorry ma'am, you have to go. You have to go. You can't do this here."

Yes, she claims the barista barred her. She also says the alleged thief got away again.

"We have choices to make. And I just wonder -- what would you do?" she said. Would you help someone who'd had their phone stolen? Or would you mind your own frappuccino?

A Starbucks spokeswoman didn't deny that Erwin was asked to leave the store. She told me: "First and foremost, the safety of our customers and partners (employees) is our top priority. Our partners are trained to identify safety concerns in our stores and contact the police when necessary, which is what our store partners did in this situation."

Erwin says that ultimately her phone was retrieved, presumably with the police's intervention.

Phone theft has been a huge problem over the last few years; 1 in 10 smartphone owners in the US have had their phones stolen.

The recent introduction of Apple's Activation Lock has, in New York at least, meant that iPhone thefts are down, while Samsung thefts have risen.

But while Erwin surely had an excessively benign view of humanity in handing her iPhone to a stranger, was she right to have expected more help -- especially from the Starbucks staff?

Or should our only expectation ever be that we're in it on our own?