Philly No. 1 in Country for Smartphone Thefts

Philadelphia tops the list, when it comes to smartphone theft and loss, according to research by the mobile security firm Lookout.

“That iPhone is iCandy to thieves,” warns Jenny Robinson, of AAA Mid-Atlantic, which released details of this study today.

Every minute, 113 smartphones are lost or stolen in the U.S. and according to the Federal Communications Commission, robberies involving cell phones make up 30 to 40 percent of all robberies.

One of the places you're most likely to be a target is while traveling on mass transit. 39 cell phones on average were lost or stolen on SEPTA each month, last year.

Back in March, SEPTA launched a new initiative to raise awareness about cell phone thefts. Riders were encouraged to download an app to track stolen smart phones. The application is called "find my phone" and it's available for iphones and android phones.

SEPTA also has 12,000 surveillance cameras watching riders. They believe their efforts are making a difference, with a slight decrease in theft numbers.

"We think increased rider awareness is playing a role in the numbers coming down," said Andrew Busch, spokesman for SEPTA. "We would need to evaluate numbers over a longer period of time to get a better idea of specifically how both increased rider awareness and police enforcement are factoring in, but we do believe both are playing a part in reducing the numbers of incidents."

SEPTA says there have been 268 cell phone thefts from January through August of this year, compared to 293 over the same time period in 2012.

The FCC will launch a nationwide campaign this Fall to help combat this type of theft. They are creating a centralized database of stolen phones, so that after a user reports a phone missing, that device will be blocked from being used again.

Here are some tips from AAA to help you from becoming a victim:

  • Install a phone app (such as Apple’s “Find My iPhone”) which will allow you to log into a website to locate a stolen or lost phone, and wipe the phone clean of personal data.
  • Don’t doze off while riding on mass transit.
  • Carry your electronic device in your front pocket or a place where it is not easily seen or reachable.
  • Keep your wallet as close to your body as possible, such as in a pants pocket or inside jacket pocket.
  • Only carry purses that close tightly, and keep purses on your lap.
  • Avoid using an electronic device on platforms.
  • If you must use an electronic device protect it by holding it with both hands at all times.
  • Change the color of your earphones. White or red wires can indicate expensive equipment.
  • Keep the volume low if you have headphones or earbuds on so you can hear what's happening around you.
  • Locate the emergency notification buttons in the stations and on trains.
  • Don’t wear valuable jewelry, especially anything with gold, or tuck it under your clothes or put it out of view.
  • Don’t carry valuables in a backpack or fanny pack.
  • When parking at a transit facility take all valuables with you.  Remove the GPS and holder.
  • If parking a bike at a transit station, use a high quality lock that cannot be easily broken.
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