Theft of portable devices (smart phones, laptop computers, tablets) has become an increasingly common crime. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has estimated that 30-40% of thefts in major U.S. cities involve smartphones/cellphones. In San Francisco last year, 50% of all robberies were phone-related according to the Associated Press. Phone thefts have become so rampant in San Francisco that IDG News Service created an interactive map detailing where the snatches have occurred and whether they involved the use of force, a gun or a knife.
The Mill Valley Police Department encourages people to enable security features such as the “Find My iPhone” application in their portable electronic devices whenever possible. For other smartphones, the list of anti-theft protection applications can be found at http://www.ctia.org/consumer_info/safety/index.cfm/AID/12087. Familiarize yourself with how to use these features and if your device is stolen or lost and you are using a remote application, notify your local law enforcement agency immediately.
Besides activating a tracking device on your phone, here are some other safety tips:
-- Put a lock on your phone. Most phones can be easily locked and then unlocked by your password, PIN or pattern/facial recognition.
-- Stash your phone – if possible, have it out of sight when you aren’t talking. Thieves see several hundred dollars in your hand when you are walking around holding the phone.
-- Be aware of your surroundings. Don’t use your phone in areas where high rates of phone theft occur like bus stops, trains and busy street corners.
-- Report phone theft immediately. Don’t be a hero -- if someone grabs your phone don’t try to track it down yourself, call local law enforcement.
The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office has produced a video called “The Epidemic of iCrime” that details steps to take to safeguard portable devices: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4zsZqgk5Jk.