An 18 year old walking with his girlfriend in a Modesto California park, a 23 year old volleyball player sitting in her Volkswagen in St. Louis, and a 26 year old chef leaving work in Riverdale, NY. These are all crime scenes and victims who were murdered for one reason…their cell phone. According to Plateau, a telecommunications company in New Mexico, 113 cell phones are stolen in the U.S every minute which amounts to about $7 million dollars a day. With 96% of the country using a cell phone it creates more targets for thieves to get their hands on the devices.
Typical smart phones range from $400-$800 market value. While that amount alone is high, thieves are also looking to steal what they contain such as personal information like bank accounts, emails, or anything else requiring a login and password. The reason is simple, the black-market resale value of the devices, like car radios two decades ago, is high. “Your mobile phone is probably the most expensive thing you carry around with you,” says Kevin Mahaffey, a co-founder of Lookout, a mobile-security company. “It’s like holding $400 up to your head.”
District Attorney George Gascon is calling on major companies in nearby Silicon Valley to create new technology such as a “kill switch” to permanently and quickly disable stolen smart phones, making them worthless to thieves”. While technology is being developed there are some things that consumers can to do stay protected. Some ways include recording the make, model, and pin, registering the phone with authorities, and backing up all personal files. Remember that cell phones can be snatched at any time. Avoid texting and walking, don’t keep personal information on the phone, use anti theft software, and be aware of all surroundings.