Almost 50 percent of all robberies carried out in San Francisco in the course of the last 12 months are related to new and old cell phones, according to authorities, and the epidemic is not limited to just the one city with an increase in cell phone thefts occurring all across the United States.
Police in New York City say that cell phone theft now accounts for over 40 percent of all robberies involve cell phones, while in Los Angeles the theft of the devices has increased by as much as 27 percent just from this time last year and now makes up almost a quarter of all robberies. “This is your modern day purse snatching,” says San Francisco Police Captain Joe Garrity. “A lot of younger folks seem to put their entire lives on these things that don’t come cheap.”
Lost and stolen cell phones could be costing consumers in the United States over $30 billion in 2012, according to Lookout, a company that provides apps for mobile security. As well as just simply reselling the phones, thieves are also getting access to credit cards, bank accounts and pass codes which are stored on smartphones as well as other mobile devices.
Police have launched a transit ad campaign in San Francisco urging people to “be smart with your smartphone”, with similar warnings also going out in Oakland, which has recorded as many as 1300 cell phone thefts so far this year.