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Cincinnati experiences significant spike in smartphone, iPad theft

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CINCINNATI - Do you know where your cellphone is?

A significant spike in smartphone and mobile device theft prompted Cincinnati City Council to ask the police department to find a solution. Interim Police Chief Paul Humphries, flanked by others in the command staff, said Wednesday the uptick in thefts is a nationwide problem, and Cincinnati is no different.

There has been a 10 percent increase in cellphone theft since 2012. Through the end of June this year, thieves have stolen 859 cellphones. Smartphones are not the only target. Police said there has been a 71 percent increase in iPad thefts since last year and 65 have been stolen through June this year.

“This is a lucrative thing for thieves, some of them can get up to $150 for each device,” Humphries said.
The best solution is theft prevention and protecting yourself from becoming a victim, police officials said.

• Don’t leave device unattended
• Be aware of your surroundings when using your device
• Don’t allow strangers to use your device
• Set device passwords
• Download a security and locator application
In the event you find yourself a victim of a smartphone theft, the sooner you call the police, the higher the chance the thief is caught, Humphries said.

“A lot times when someone is the victim of a crime, we get a really good description of the bad guy’s shoes because they [the victim] just looks down – it’s a scary thing to go through,” Humphries said. “Call 911 right after it happens … because we do want to know about this, and we can, in a lot of times, help recover the item.”
Stolen smartphones are generally being sold at small cellphone stores.

“Any shop that resells old cellphones, are pretty much buying stolen cellphones,” said Planning Section Sgt. Chantia Miller.

Apple offers some support in detecting lost or stolen phones with its free software, Find My iPhone, which can locate a missing iPhone or remotely erase its data. The service does not work once the phone is turned off. To locate an iPhone, an Apple customer may log in to iCloud.com with a Web browser and see a map of its approximate location, and can then hit a button to erase its information.

Early last month, Apple introduced a new Find My iPhone Activation Lock feature in its latest operation system iOS 7, that requires an Apple ID and password before the Find My iPhone application may be turned off, erase data or re-activate a device after it’s been remotely erased. Apple expects the feature to act as a theft deterrent.

Google does not include any software in its Android operating system to help people locate a missing phone, although some third-party Android apps offer the feature. In September 2012, Verizon Wireless launched a new application for Android smartphones called Verizon Mobile Security.

Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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