Days after a Santa Clarita woman's home was burglarized, selfies of a mysterious couple started popping up on her cloud-based storage account, most likely via her stolen iPhone.
Seizing on the potential lead, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department investigators soon released one of the selfies to the public, saying the man and woman in the photo were persons of interest in the burglary case. To the public, it was just another case of clueless criminals implicating themselves, but to the man in the soon-to-go-viral photo, it was an embarrassing shock.
Just days earlier, Larry Beltran Jr. said, his aunt had purchased the iPhone at a swap meet, apparently unaware of its origin — or that it was still tethered to an iCloud account being monitored by its former owner. When he arrived at the sheriff's Santa Clarita station on Wednesday, he was told to return the next day. The detective in charge of the case had left for the day.
"I didn't steal it, I went to a swap meet and my aunt bought it for me," Beltran told NBC4. "It's embarrassing. I didn't have no idea it would be all over the news or anything, you know? That's just between me and my girlfriend."
But by the time he returned the next day to speak with detectives, phone in hand, his story had gone viral — the "bed selfie" of him and his girlfriend seen 'round the world under headlines with descriptors such as "smitten," "smug" and "mysterious."
On Thursday, authorities said they identified his girlfriend after receiving tips from people who had seen her picture.
In the past, detectives have used the cloud application Find My iPhone to track down suspects and persons of interest, but Deputy Joshua Dubin said they have never had a case involving a selfie.
It all started July 30 when a woman reported that her home had been ransacked, and electronics and cash stolen.
Days after the break-in, the woman logged onto her iCloud account and noticed the mysterious selfies — all with time stamps indicating the photographs were taken days after the break-in, Dubin said.
Beltran spoke with detectives Thursday, and authorities confirmed he and his girlfriend were not suspects.
"Right now, it's still an active investigation," Dubin said.