The New York Criminal Law Blog

Snatching and the City: 5 Ways to Keep Your Smartphone Safe

In an almost unbelievable turn of events, a Flushing resident used her iPhone's GPS capabilities to track it down, along with the thief who allegedly snatched it.

The luckiest woman in New York accomplished the impossible -- getting her stolen smartphone back -- with the help of the "Find My iPhone" app and the very motivated NYPD Officer Haaris M. Hamid, reports The New York Times.

For everyone else in New York City, here are five tips to keep your smartphone safe on the streets:

1. Don't Walk and Talk.

When you're walking down the sidewalk with your phone up to your ear, you're not very aware of your surroundings, and you are open to attack from thieves.

Take a note from CNN anchor Carol Costello, who had her iPhone wrenched from her last week: Save your phone conversations for indoors.

2. Turn on Security Features.

Most smartphones have a locking feature that will cause a phone to shut down if an incorrect PIN is entered too many times. This can prevent thieves from accessing your information.

For iPhone users, remember to enable "Find My iPhone," which will allow you to track your phone's GPS location as long as it remains on.

3. Do Not Struggle With Thieves.

Struggling with a thief over an iPhone may leave you vulnerable to being attacked, so it is not worth your health (or your life) to grapple for your smartphone.

4. Get Your Phone Marked.

The NYPD's Transit Bureau Crime Prevention Unit provides a free service to register and mark your smartphone. This includes:

  • Free etching. Police carve a small identifying number on the device to identify it and deter thieves.
  • Ultraviolet marking. A special chemical marking is applied to easy identify your phone under UV light.
  • Registering your phone's serial number. Police register your phone's unique serial number with your name, allowing it to be returned to you if found.

5. Report the Theft to Your Mobile Carrier.

If your smartphone is stolen, contact your mobile carrier and report the theft as well as suspend your mobile service.

Some carriers, like Sprint, offer premium insurance plans which may pay out enough to get a new phone if your old one was stolen.

Related Resources: