For a thief, the perfect heist is fast, easy, involves little chance of getting caught, and is either cash or can be easily converted to cash. Enter the iThief. From New York City subways to the streets of Oakland, CA, thieves are grabbing all the iPhones and other Apple products that they can. One shocked public transit rider in San Francisco even had her iPhone stolen right out of her hands – while she was still talking on it!
So why are the “i” products such a hot item to steal? First of all, there is a heavy demand for them. A well priced iPhone can easily be sold in a matter of days, or even hours, online or on the street. Secondly, once it’s sold, it’s hard to trace it back to the thief, because there are no regulations on reselling these items, and online identities can easily be faked and deleted. So with brazen thefts on the rise, and overwhelmed police unable to investigate every robbery, is there any hope for getting your iPhone and all the personal information you store on it back?
If you’ve taken advantage of the GPS device built into your product, the answer is yes. Luckily for consumers, Apple had the foresight to build into each of their products tracking devices such as the “iCloud” and “Find my iPhone/Pod/Pad” apps that can be activated for free. While often used to help forgetful owners find their misplaced items around the house, victims of crime are using the tool to fight back.
Each apple product contains a GPS tracking chip which uses local wireless hotspots to send out a signal that can be tracked via the Apple iCloud app. Once alerted, Police can track a stolen iPhone to its location, often catching the thief as well as recovering the stolen item. Some departments are now even offering special training to officers in how to use the apps to catch criminals before they can sell the stolen product.
Activating the “Find my iPhone” apps is relatively simple process, and easy to follow instructions can be found the Apple website. Besides the apps designed by Apple, there are several others that can help you locate a lost or stolen Apple product. But none of these apps can replace simply being aware of one’s surroundings and keeping a close eye on belongings, as some thieves have learned to circumvent GPS tracking devices by turning off stolen products or removing the SIM card from phones. While there is no guarantee that you’ll be reunited with your stolen phone, activiting GPS tracking apps do give you the ability to fight back if you’ve had something stolen, and increase the odds that your stolen product will be recovered.