Smartphones are both ubiquitous and expensive, making them easy targets for thieves. A survey conducted for the
"People should think of their cellphone as currency in their hands, because that's the way thieves think of it," said CMPD Maj.
Cellphone thefts are surging nationwide. According to the
Smartphones typically contain sensitive chunks of their owners' personal data. But Estes said most thieves try to erase data from the devices as quickly as possible. Some smartphones have been resold just hours after they were swiped at bars or restaurants. They end up in flea markets or at businesses that pay cash for used cellphones. Some are sold on the street.
Police say they try to track down stolen phones but provided no details on how many arrests they've made. Usually, by the time they're called, Estes said, the trail is cold.
Last year, cellphone carriers started a national database of stolen cellphones, which would prevent a phone entered into the database from being reactivated.
But Estes said smartphone owners can become tougher targets simply by keeping an eye on their cellphones.
He also recommended that cellphone owners download apps that help them locate lost or stolen phones and record a phone's serial number and other identifying information so officers can trace it once it has been stolen.
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