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New FCC Study Finds Smartphone Theft Still a Major Problem (Update)

by Brandon Russell | December 5, 2014December 5, 2014 6:00 pm PDT

Google Nexus 6-vs-iPhone-6-Plus-5

A new study conducted by the FCC found that Apple’s new mobile security measures, including Find My iPhone and Activation Lock, have had a major impact on iPhone theft. In fact, iPhone robberies in San Francisco have reportedly dropped by nearly 40-percent in the first five months of 2014; in New York, iPhone robberies have dropped by 19-percent. Not bad when you consider the FCC found 59-percent of robberies (out of 4,000) in San Francisco in 2013 involved a smartphone. Yikes.

The allure of a quick snatch-and-grab job has its obvious allure. Thieves have no shortage of options at their disposal when ditching the goods, whether it be communities like Craigslist or trade-in sites like Gazelle. But companies like Apple and Google, at the behest of politicians and lawmakers, have made improvements to mobile security, giving thieves pause before running off with someone’s smartphone. Still, in 2013 alone, 3.1 million Americans had their smartphones stolen, up from 1.6 million the year before.

With some measures like Find My iPhone and Activation Lock having a noticeable dent on iPhone robberies, we’ll see what the figures are like next year. Smartphone theft is still rampant, as the FCC’s data shows. But it doesn’t have to be that way. All it takes is a little initiative and some effort on the user’s part to ensure they take precautions before yielding their new device out in public.

If you just recently got a device, or plan to this holiday season, make an effort to be a little more aware of your surroundings, especially if you’re in a big city. All it takes is a second of absentmindedness and your phone could be down the street before you know it. Below are some of the pertinent figures included in the FCC study:

  • 69-percent of devices stolen in San Francisco in 2013 were iPhones.
  • 55-percent of larcenies in New York involved a smartphone.
  • 49-percent of robberies in London involved a smartphone.

Be careful out there.

Update: Gazelle actually uses a system called CheckMEND as a measure to ensure it doesn’t purchase stolen property. That means thieves have one less platform to take advantage of.

FCC Gizmodo

Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...

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