BEWARE: Thieves want your iPhone

by Fred Showker

I hate thieves. People who steal are the lowest kind of people, next to terrorists and murderers. In fact, they have a lot in common.

In a civilized world it would seem that just about anything one might steal is also available through honorable means. But for some reason, there are low-life people who are either too lazy, or too crooked and dishonest to do something for the objects they desire. I guess it all boils down to the human's basic nature of greed. Get something for nothing. I hate them. I truly hate them.

My daughter has had two laptops stolen. Her apartment was broken into and all her worldly posessions taken right down to the socks from her drawers. She was broken. My wife's purse was pick-pocketed at the Paris airport. They were both violated. And it took them months and months to get over it. I just wish I would have caught the guy.

I guess that's why I also hate spammers. They take without ceremony. They steal the bandwidth to do their dirty work, and they steal the recipient's mental or physical property. From crimes against property, to embezzlement, larceny, looting, robbery, shoplifting, and fraud (theft by deception) -- they're all dishonorable and deserve punishment.

My son's iPhone was stolen just a month after he got it. It had become one of his prized possessions. It was probably his own fault -- using the phone in a crowded public place, showing it off to friends -- laying it down on the bar for just a moment. But look at the misery that thief caused. The thief got a useless device, once the account was cancelled. Perhaps he could sell it on the black market for a couple hundred bucks. But the victim suffered far more than the thief gained.

In the police investigation in Ft. Lauderdale, they said that there's a wave of iPhone thefts not just in the city but nation-wide. Just like the wave of iPod thefts, the crooks target people using devices that are popular and trendy. The incident followed a well known and widely used technique: distract the victim, grab the phone, disappear in the crowd. It's a sad note on society, and a devastating blow to the victim.

BEWARE: iPhone theft is Identity Theft

According to law enforcement, they don't steal them to use them. They're looking for account passwords, charge card information and online banking info.

* NEVER set auto fill, or embed your ID, passwords or account numbers. Always key those in on the fly when accessing sensitive data. Better yet, DO NOT USE your iPhone for those purposes! With WiFi packet sniffers, lurking crooks can grab your transactions on the fly.

Read the comments following this blog posting at ask.metafilter.com, where there's an ongoing discussion about iPhone theft.

According to one similar victim, you should contact ATT immediately... Quoting:

I lost my iPhone about two weeks after I got the thing. It was out of my possession for about two hours. Who ever found it never used it. When I called AT&T they said that the culprit would never be able to use the phone because it would have to be activated through iTunes to use it. This being the case they explained that when the phone's serial number (or some other number that identifies the phone) came up it would not work after it was disabled by AT&T. [End Quote]

Can you protect yourself?

*** Keep your phone in front of you, and in contact
*** Do NOT set it down in busy places, even for a moment
*** Do NOT carry in back pockets or belt holsters

When you use your phone in a busy place, anywhere there's a crowd or crowded circumstances, be aware of people around you, and keep the phone in touch at all times. Better yet, just don't use it in crowded, public places.

My friend, Doug Clifford, frequent contributor to the Photographic department in the Design Center goes to Manila and the Phillippines quite often and each time he gets several cell phones stolen. No matter how hard he tries to protect them, they get stolen.

Pickpockets are professionals. They make their living stealing from people. Don't think they can't fool you.

Someone should invent a retractable tether that can be securely attached to the phone and to your person -- with a non-cutable cable. Apple should offer a wrist strap similar to most digital cameras. Such a device would also prevent dropping the phone.

I would like to see someone invent a tiny transmitter that works on WiFi independently of the iPhone -- so that when the phone is stolen, the user can press a button on a remote, and the iPhone explodes. POP! Just enough to blow a three-inch hole, or take off a hand.

Now, that would be just rewards!

Thanks for reading...

Fred Showker

Fred Showker, Editor, Graphic Design & Publishing

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