Had a smartphone stolen? This probably won't be much comfort, but take solace in knowing you're not alone. More than one million Americans had their smartphones stolen in 2014, according to new figures from the Federal Communications Commission, although that might only be a glimpse into the growing world of mobile theft.
No official statistics track exactly how often or how many smartphones are stolen in the U.S. each year, however an FCC report quietly released last week said the number “considerably exceeds” one million, enough to account for one-tenth of all robberies. That figure, which is much lower than the 3.1 million thefts the FCC suggested occurred in 2013, was formulated when the FCC surveyed 21 police departments responsible for 20 million people and applied that data to the rest of the country. The good news is that better encryption methods - - including Apple’s Activation Lock - - seem to be helping the problem.
“Mobile device theft is a complex issue that is present on both local and global levels,” the FCC said. “It can be perpetrated as a ‘crime of opportunity,’ as well as part of a larger criminal enterprise.”
Those criminal enterprises often include the overseas shipment and sale of U.S. smartphones, with police in foreign nations less willing to investigate instances of American theft abroad. Yet the FCC report suggests that, by using a kill switch or Apple’s Activation Lock, the mere threat of a phone being turned off remotely could be enough to discourage a thief from taking that device.
Apple owners are also encouraged to turn on “Find My iPhone,” while Google Android users should take advantage of the Factory Reset Protection feature.