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Stolen Phone? There's an App for That!

USA Today reported at the end of 2012 that cell phone theft accounted for almost half of all robberies in San Francisco during the year. In fact, cell phone theft seems to have become a huge problem in most major cities. Some thieves are sneaky, snatching them quickly out of open purses or back pockets, and some of them are bold, holding people up at gunpoint and forcibly taking their smart phones or even grabbing them right out of their owners' hands while they're still talking. Many cell phone thefts take place while their owners are using public transportation.


Victims of smart phone theft don't only lose an expensive device, but can be vulnerable to identity theft as well, as smart phones often contain sensitive information - everything from financial information to important passwords. Thieves can sell stolen phones on the black market. By some accounts, cell phone companies have been complicit in black market sales in the past by allowing stolen phones to be reactivated with different phone numbers. More recently, a national database was created to

track stolen phones using each device's unique IMEI number. This number cannot be changed by switching SIM cards in a device. According to, users can be proactive by calling *#06# from their cell phone to find out their IMEI number and keeping that number on file in case of a theft. Some other recommended ways to deal with possible cell phone theft:

- Use a cell phone leash or keep it in a belt holster, so that it's attached to your body.

- Use password protection for everything on your phone, and choose a good password!

- Consider cell phone insurance, BUT do the math to figure out how much it costs to replace your phone in comparison with how much the insurance costs. Also, find out precisely what your insurance guarantees you, as you could be stuck paying a deductible. Also, some kinds of insurance don't guarantee you a new device, or even the same device that you insured in the first place! If you're interested in mobile phone insurance, ask lots of questions and know exactly what you're agreeing to.

- In the event that your phone is stolen, report the theft to the police immediately.

Police in Philadelphia are now recommending that cell phone users download a free "Find my Phone" app. You download the app to another device and it will let you remotely lock your iPhone, find it on a map and more. There is also one available for Android. These apps could even be useful for people who often misplace their phones.


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