Have you ever lost your cell phone?

Taylor Martin
 from Concord, NC
Published: March 25, 2012

One of the worst feelings in the world is when you reach in your pocket to grab your phone and the only thing there is an enormous wad of lint. Maybe it's just not in the right pocket, so you pat yourself down, checking other pockets and any bag you may have on you for where you might have misplaced your phone. Check the car, your pockets again, back to the bag. Nothing. Your phone is nowhere to be found.

Everyone has done it. Well, almost everyone, I'm sure.

According to a new study by Lookout Mobile Security, a person in the United States loses a phone every three and a half seconds. If that's not surprising to you, maybe the fact that, annually, lost phones add up to a cool $30 billion in losses is.

So where are all of those misplaced exactly? Lookout found that most lost phones are left at coffee shops. The second most common place for a cell phone to be lost is, unsurprisingly, in bars. After that, the most common places for phones to be left behind are in offices, restaurants, at apartments, groceries stores, gas stations, residential homes, pharmacies or drug stores and at parks. These places are averaged across the entire U.S. and vary between actual cities. For instance, in New York, most people leave their phones in fast food restaurants and in Chicago, the third most popular place to lose a phone is at church.

And in what cities are cell phones lost the most? Philadelphia is first. Next is Seattle, which is followed by Oakland, Long Beach, Newark, Detroit, Cleveland, Baltimore, New York and Boston, in that order.

Normally, I would look over a study such as this. It gives very little useful information and is usually part of a marketing strategy for the company who performed the study. In this case, Lookout is promoting their mobile security software, which, like many other mobile security options, allows you to locate and remote wipe your phone in the event it is lost or stolen. But the main point in this study is how frequently phones are actually lost. As they said, every 3.5 seconds. That means about 24,686 phones are lost every day, or over 9 million per year. Chances are, a lot of you have probably lost a phone before. And that's not particularly assuring after learning exactly what happens when a lost phone is found last week.

Technically, I have never lost a phone. I thought I had on two separate occasions. But after a few hours of freaking out, retracing my steps, trying to remember where exactly I had been and calling my phone relentlessly, I decided to head back to my house only to find my phone laying safely on my bed. The other time, I felt in my pocket and ... no phone. I remembered having left the house with it, but couldn't, for the life of me, remember where I had left it last. After yet another freak-out, I found it sitting in the cup holder of my car. Phew!

My mother also misplaced her iPad once, and was that a horrible experience! She called me, nearly in a panic asking what she should do. After two or three days, it turned up in a place she claims she had never put it. I'm still not sure what happened with that. My sister also misplaced her iPad several weeks ago (we think inside our house somewhere since she rarely leaves with it) and has yet to find it. But my future brother-in-law has a terrible habit of losing his phone. Somehow, he always manages to find it, but I am almost positive his phone is lost more than it's actually in his possession.

After those two close calls, though, I learned to make sure I have my phone in my hand, pocket or bag before I leave a place. I subconsciously check two or three times before leaving anymore, and thankfully this has worked quite well for me. However, I've been on the fence for some time about using remote wipe and tracking software, just in case. I don't like passwords and I don't have insurance. So if I lose a phone, it's a lost cause trying to find it – unless, by the off chance, a good Samaritan finds it.

What about you, folks? Have you ever lost your phone? If so, did you track your phone down with a premium service? Did you simply retrace your steps and (luckily) find it? Or did you remote wipe it and file an insurance claim or police report?