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Smartphone Thefts and Robberies: Growing Trends and Promising Practices

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2013
8 pages
This report documents the increasing trend in smartphone thefts/robberies and describes promising practices for preventing, mitigating the harms of, and investigating these crimes.
The risk for smartphone robberies and thefts is increasing as ownership increases, along with the rewards for those who steal them. A stolen iPhone equates to cash for the thieves. In the United States, used iPhones can sell for $50 to $400; overseas, a stolen iPhone can be sold for as much as $2,000. Some retail stores also have programs that entice smartphone thefts. Best Buy and Apple, for example, have exchange programs that provide credit toward an upgraded phone or in-store credit. Several agencies have adopted measures to counter this growing criminal enterprise. Law enforcement agencies have effectively used decoy officers on mass transit routes or bait cars with Apple products in plain sight. The FCC has entered into a public-private partnership to develop a tool for consumers that provides them with security steps customized by a mobile operating system called the Security Checker. Public education campaigns are also being conducted to inform smartphone owners about ways they can prevent and mitigate the harms of smartphone thefts. Some of these steps are outlined in this report. Also included are steps in planning the use of software and/or hardware designed to track lost or stolen cellular devices. The appendix presents 10 core concepts for successful wireless investigations. 35 notes

Date Published: September 1, 2013