IPhone theft is growing problem in New York
IPhone users in New York, beware: According to recent media reports, the city is in the midst of a crime wave, and police say the problem could get worse.
The Daily News reports that nearly half the 16,000 robberies in the first 10 months of 2011 involved technological devices, and that iPhones account for over 70% of all stolen cellphones on subways and buses.
"Walking around with a cellphone is like walking around with a $500 bill," a police source told the New York Post. "Kids are stealing them and flipping them immediately."
In the age of Yelp, downloadable subway and street maps, and the "I'm-running-20-minutes-late" phone call, it's hard to imagine how one would survive in New York without constant smartphone use, but police are suggesting that New Yorkers and those who visit the city do their best to keep their phones tucked away in their pockets as much as possible.
The police are also going after the people who are stealing the phones and those who are knowingly buying stolen phones.
In a recent sting operation, the NYPD nailed 141 merchants -- mostly people who work at bodegas, barber shops and newsstands -- for buying what they thought were stolen iPhones and iPads, according to the New York Post.
The police and Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York have expressed annoyance that cellphone carriers make it possible for stolen phones to be used even after they are stolen. They say they would like to see phone carriers create a single database that would store each device's identification number and has the technology to disable stolen devices. In the current system, carriers may shut off service to a stolen phone, but thieves that have access to different SIM cards can still use the phone.
If your iPhone is stolen, you can attempt to find it through iCloud's "find my iPhone" button. If you click on the button, the location of your iPhone will show up on a map. Of course, that will only work if your iPhone is still on, and most savvy thieves will probably have already turned the iPhone off.
Photo: The Empire State building and the Manhattan skyline are seen from the 70th floor of Rockefeller Center. Credit: Mary Altaffer / AP.