Police across the globe are fighting surges in mobile phone and tablet thefts. These seemingly technologically inclined bunch of thieves often prefer stealing Apple gadgets like iPhones, iPads and iPods because they are expensive, small and easy to snatch — and more importantly robbers appear to be favoring iPhones and iPads for their brand recognition and higher street value. Increasingly being referred to as ‘iCrime‘ or ‘Apple Picking‘, this trend has surfaced rather recently across many countries like USA, UK and even China and India. What is more alarming is the fact that apart from thieves, snatchers and pickpockets, now violent robbers are also targeting mobile users.
However, I’m pretty sure that this trend is not necessarily confined to theft associated with Apple mobile devices only and that many Android devices are being stolen as well, especially newer wares like the Google Nexus 7 tablet and the Samsung Galaxy S III superphone. Nabbing electronic devices isn’t new. But lately it is growing “exponentially” according to a 2011 report from the New York Police Department. As for the statistics, In New York City, there were over 26,000 electronics thefts in the first 10 months of year 2011, of which 81% involved mobile phones, and cellphone-related robberies grew 54% between 2007 to 2011 attributing to this rise in “iCrime” — muggers stealing iPhones, iPads, and other “smart” devices and then selling them in secondary markets.
Earlier this year, a man in the Bronx was shot dead for his iPhone. A guy in Denver had part of his finger ripped off when thieves ripped an Apple Store bag out of his hands and in one of the most recent high profile incidents, WSJ’s Rolfe Winkler was attacked over his own iPad and was found lying on the platform bleeding, his jaw split in half.
Steps to Prevent and Protect Yourself From ‘Apple Picking’ [iPhone, iPad Robberies]?
1. Stay Alert
Subway or bus riders make great targets, especially those engrossed in their devices near the doors. When the doors open, a veteran thief will swipe the device and flee, the doors closing behind him. So when you’re on the subway or walking around at night in a quiet area, turn your music down a notch and don’t get too immersed in on-the-move ‘texting’ or ‘emailing’. Look up from your screen once in a while to see if you are being followed. Even better, put your device in your bag or inside coat pocket. Being aware – while showing others that you are aware – could make the difference.
2. Stay Under The Radar
Apple products and other popular Android devices act like ‘thief magnet’ because, they have great return value for the work involved acquiring them illegally. These devices are also highly atheistically pleasing, this often motivates the impulsive emotional based criminal. To avoid such thieves,
- If you are using your iPhone or iPod Touch to listen to music while on the move, then get rid of the distinguishable Apple white ear buds, which are noticeable at a distance and announce to all thieves that you have an iPhone (or an iPod Touch)! Replace them with earphones that will draw less attention.
- Use a black case cover to hide the shiny metal signature back of a iPod or iPhone so it looks like any ordinary crap phone.
- Use black headphone cables, even those cheap looking over the head ones, in public places where you could become a victim of crime.
3. Note Down Your Device’s Serial Number and Get Insured
Keep a record of your gadget’s serial number. Report your stolen device with the police if you are a victim of theft as soon as it happens. Give them the serial number and description of your device when doing so to better your chance of finding it back. Also make sure, you consider getting specialized device insurance. The iPhone and other smartphone insurance cost starts around at a reasonable $5 a month. You may also be able to cover your mobile device through homeowner’s or renter’s insurance and their “personal articles policy” option.
4. Backup Your Gadget Periodically
Like with taking backup of any other smart devices, taking regular periodical backups of your smartphone, tablet and portable music player can not only serve you good in times of accidental damages but also when such devices are stolen, pick-pocketed or robbed.
With iCloud (for iOS devices), it’s easy to make sure your iPhone or iPad data is backed up to within the last 24 hours (you can also manually back up data whenever you have a Wi-Fi connection). You can achieve the same using Dropbox (for other Android devices).
5. Install Recover Apps
These apps let you track a lost or stolen device. Apple’s Find My iPhone is the most used device recovery and tracking app for iOS. There are manyother options for other non-Apple devices as well — Lookout Mobile and Where’s My Droid for Android, Find My Phone for Windows Phone 7, Prey and AirCover for multiple platforms. However, keep in mind that there are limitations of these apps: your device must be on, can’t be wiped or reformatted, or had its SIM card taken out for these to work. Experienced cons know this. If not, your battery will run out, too. So time is of the essence. Good luck!