With cell phone and, likewise, smartphone adoption on a steady and steep rise, the tally of lost cell phones is climbing, respectively. But the value of a cell phone is also significantly increasing, which has led to significantly higher theft rates across the country and around the world.
According to an infographic created by mobile device insurance company Protect Your Bubble, there are 113 smartphones either lost or stolen in the United States every minute. People in some areas are more prone to lose their phone than people in other areas, though, as Philadelphia was ranked the number one city in the U.S. for phone loss. Following from second to tenth, respectively, are: Seattle, Oakland, Long Beach, Newark, Detroit, Cleveland, Baltimore, New York and Boston.
If those cities, in that particular order, sound familiar. It's because you may have read about a study performed in March of this year by Lookout Mobile Security, which Protect Your Bubble is citing.
That said, there is some discrepancy in places people lose their phones most. Lookout shared that the two most common places to lose your phone are in coffee shops and bars, respectively. Protect Your Bubble, on the other hand, claims the number one spot to lose your cell phone is in a fast food restaurant, followed by the pharmacy store, grocery store, coffee shop and the office, respectively.
What's so interesting about this infographic, however, is how much smartphones are affecting crime rates across the nation. Protect Your Bubble parallels the fast pace of Los Angeles' fashion scene with its smartphone theft rate, which increased by 32 percent during Q1 2012 alone. In New York City, 40 percent of the robberies are cell phone-related, and 70 percent of cell phones stolen in subways or buses are iPhones.
Back in March, when I reported the original Lookout study, I asked if any readers had ever lost their smartphone. Considering the impressive rate of 113 smartphones disappearing from their owners every minute across the U.S., I imagine a nice portion of you guys and gals have.
Instead, what I'm interested in this time is if any of you have had your smartphone stolen. It's not always evident whether you simply misplaced your smartphone, or if someone with quick hands snatched it while you weren't looking. Sometimes, though, it couldn't be more black and white.
You may recall a piece I wrote in July where a colleague, Russell Holly of geek.com, had a phone stolen at CES last year. A year and a half later, dozens of pictures of a stranger and his friends from Guadalajara began popping up in his Google+ Instant Uploads album. And the story of Kathy McCaffery's lost iPhone went viral when a member of the cruise ship she was on started documenting his life with the iPhone's camera. Unbeknownst to the thief, the pictures were automatically being sent to McCaffery's iCloud account.
As long as resale values remain high, smartphone theft will carry on, which is why U.S. carriers have come together to create three databases – one shared between T-Mobile and AT&T and one each for Sprint and Verizon. The databases are expected to come together by this time next year, and they work by storing device identifiers. When a phone is reported stolen, it is then disabled, rendering it useless to a thief … so long as the owner reports the device stolen.
The effects of these preventative databases won't work immediately. Not everyone is aware of them, and unknowing buyers may still buy stolen phones. So for some time, stolen phones will continue to be a problem.
The question is: have you ever had your phone stolen?
I, personally, have not. My phones rarely leave my pockets unless I am using them. Sometimes I will leave them on the table at the coffee shop, and I'm wary of passers by who may have quick hands. And my Galaxy Note II was mistakenly picked up by a lady going through a TSA checkpoint at JFK in New York. But, luckily, no phones in my collection have ever gone missing. And if they do, I can rest assured that my personal information won't go far before the phone is wiped and reported.
What about you, readers? Has your phone ever gone missing? Did you use software to track or wipe it? Did it get returned, or did you have to simply write it off as a loss?