Jens Schott Knudsen
Thieves can take advantage of smartphone users who become engrossed in their screens and unaware of their surroundings.
It's an iPhone/iPad crime wave! At least, that's according to an essay in the Wall Street Journal where Rolfe Winkler writes about chasing down an iPhone thief (and his subsequent broken jaw.)
However, it's unknown just how big the iCrime wave is, but the piece does say that out of 26,000 electronics thefts in New York City in 2011, 81 percent involved mobile phones, according to the Wall Street Journal. There are other statistics from Washington, D.C., that say that cellphone robberies jumped 54 percent from 2007 to 2011 -- but doesn't that also say something about cellphone use in general? Those numbers can also be because of the proliferation of mobile phones and not just simply rising crime.
There's a lot of anecdotal evidence of violent iPhone muggings, but the meat of the article is in the middle: the wireless industry is now fighting this mobile phone and tablet crime. Once a smartphone is reported stolen, an ID number goes into a database. When someone else tries to use the phone, it pops up on an industry blacklist and the carrier denies service.
Sprint and Verizon have done blacklisting for a while, but not AT&T and T-Mobile. However in April, both AT&T and T-Mobile will start a blacklist, and carriers promise to build a unified database by next year. Europe, Latin America and Australia already have such a database in place.