Phone Theft on the Rise: What You Can Do

Thieves are stealing cell phones, some flagrantly right out of a person’s hand or from right beside someone when the owner isn’t looking. Part of what makes phone theft so attractive to thieves is the market demand for stolen phones.

It’s gotten pretty bad, and these thieves are growing even bolder in their approach, with dashing into unlocked passenger side doors of idling cars at places like traffic lights and parking lots or driveways. You don’t think it can happen to you, but it is happening to many people at an unprecedented rate. And when it does, the phone owner feels a sense of being violated – extremely violated.  Some of these burglaries seem so ludicrous that at first, you’ll think it’s a joke.

If you have any misgivings about your cell phone being unable to be used by a thief, think again. Thieves can steal your phone and make a quick $30 to $200 by selling it to stores or online with no questions asked. Many states don’t have laws that require the thief to tell anyone where they got the phone from.

Phone owners are beginning to feel like It’s not even worth taking their cell phones with them anymore. They pay all of this money for their phones, and it’s happening everywhere. And it’s not just snatching. Some thieves have gotten clever with something called a Pop-A-Lock scam. A man recently approached a woman sitting at a coffee shop. He asked the woman to borrow her phone to call pop-a-lock – the company that unlocks car doors. The woman says the man even sat at her table for about three minutes, supposedly on the phone with the company. All of a sudden, the man acted as if he needed to go and get his VIN off his car. He walked out to the parking lot with her phone, and she never saw him (nor her phone,) again.

First of all, the best thing you can do is to put protection software on your phone. That way you can track it or disable it if it is stolen. Also, never give it up or leave it sitting around, even to place it on a tabletop beside you at a favorite restaurant or coffee shop. When you’re not using it, always keep your phone in your pocket or purse, don’t just lay it out – just keep it with you.

If someone tries to sell a phone to a pawn shop, most of them write down the phone’s serial number and the name of the person selling it. They send that information to the police right away. It’s a good idea for you to store your phone’s serial number apart from the phone and report any thefts to police.

The major cell phone companies are also working on a national database to combat the thefts.

In the meantime, check out these apps:

  • Lookout Mobile Security. Sounds an alarm so you can find your iPhone if it has been stolen nearby or simply misplaced. It is free and available for iOS and Android devices.
  • Blue Sprig’s Air Cover. Comes with a map, which helps you locate the stolen or missing phone. It is free and available on iOS and Android devices.
  • Project Prey. Tracks the phone and even work to snap shots of the criminal. Price varies.
  • Gadgettrak. Costs $3.99 in the Apple App store, tracks your phone using Wi-Fi networks and also uses the camera to snap a photo of the thieves.
  • Find My iPhonE. Free is very popular. You can remotely wipe the phone, but the downside is that the app doesn’t work if the phone is turned off.

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