Girls’ cross country team traces thief with tracking software


Laney Chang

The girls’ cross country team was robbed during their 6 a.m. practice at Spott’s Park on Aug. 21. Using Life360, a tracking software, the team helped the Houston Police Department apprehend the thief.

Burglary of a motor vehicle is the most common crime in Houston—last year, more than 30,000 break-ins were reported. On Aug. 21, five students and one coach of the girls’ cross-country team had their world turned upside-down in a matter of seconds. 

“There was a lot of despair and shock,” head coach Rachel Fabre said.

At 6 a.m., sophomores Cici Calhoun and Chloe Zhao and senior Grace Knowles put their belongings in senior Maddie Overstreet’s car at Spotts Park, 3.4 miles from campus. Less than an hour later, only Calhoun’s duffel bag remained. 

“It was so sad and pretty terrible at the moment,” Zhao said, “but everything we lost is just material.”

Among the stolen items were Calhoun’s backpack and cell phone. Her father received an alert from Life360, a tracking software, indicating that his daughter’s phone was going past his Greenway Plaza office building. Her father found this strange and a bit disconcerting since his building is far from Spotts Park.

“He thought we were on a crazy run that morning,” Fabre said. 

Life 360 helped the Girls’ cross-country team find their stolen items. Matthew Hensel 

After hearing about the theft, Mr. Calhoun began tracking his daughter’s phone, eventually notifying the Houston Police Department, who met him along Emancipation Ave.

Before the theft, Calhoun was no fan of having tracking software on her phone: “I always resented Life360—it annoyed me so much,” she said. “But it actually really helped that day, and I am pretty grateful that we had it.”

HPD officers apprehended a suspect in a parking lot, and in a nearby dumpster, Calhoun’s father recovered ruined textbooks and laptop cases. 

The alleged thief also had several AirPods in his possession. Knowles suggested identifying the owner by connecting the wireless earbuds to Bluetooth, allowing the police to arrest him on the spot. 

In order to ensure the safety of runners and their possessions, both cross country teams will practice more frequently on campus.

“It’s unfortunate. I loved the unexpectedness of Spotts Parks and all its hills, but we’ll make it work here,” Zhao said. “We were all safe, and that’s what’s important.”