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Mobile Phone Theft; A Growing Concern

Camille Atkinson, Yahoo Contributor Network

Throughout my life I have owned and lost several mobile phones, also called handsets, cellulars or cell phones for short. I guess being employed to a Telecommunications company made it a bit easier in receiving replacements after each event. I have had my Motorola Razr stolen by placing it on a table whilst partying in a club. Careless you say? I am not sure seeing that I was standing in front the table the whole time along with a circle of girlfriends. Did I mention it was my birthday? Well it was my birthday celebration that came to a trifling halt when I discovered the phone was missing.

On another occasion once again partying Carnival style, my Blackberry was taken from my pants back pocket, which by the way had the flap buttoned down. There have been other instances but the two most frightening occurred when my Nokia 7270 was taken from me in broad daylight as I sat in my car in inert traffic! There I was on the phone talking to a friend when I felt something brush my face from behind which caused the phone to fall onto my lap. When I spun around I looked into the frightening face of a male who subsequently demanded that I hand the phone to him. The second instance occurred when my personal space was violated. I was robbed in the middle of the night in my own apartment, luckily the intruder only took yet another beloved Blackberry but it was still the most terrifying and immobilizing experience as I was home.

The First Mobile Phone was invented in 1973 by Motorola's Dr. Martin Cooper. Since then its popularity has grown where it has become one of the most sought after commodities in modern times. Now it is a way of life for most; it's deemed as a necessity more so than a luxury and its users are worldwide, from kids as young as 6 years to the older generations. But along with its evolution came negative associations one of which is the growing rise of theft and the endangerment of lives in the process.

Mobile phone crimes are far greater and worst than many have conceived, as owners unknowingly become the targets of criminal minds. The instruments are sought after for various illegal activities ranging from low level crimes such as the petty thief that uses them for resale or scrapping of parts to the master minds of criminal exploitation targeting companies and individuals. The exploitation point was reported in an article on computerweekly.com which went on to say that because of the sensitive information that some persons store on their phones they are open to identity theft amongst other things.

Some countries have experienced an influx of theft that left consumers wary of owning the instruments for fear of becoming a target. A British Crime Survey done in 2000 showed that school children are likely to become victims of mobile phone theft than adults, obviously because they are easier targets. The problem will steadily increase as they get more sophisticated and expensive. However there are habits consumers can employ to protect themselves as these are experiences that no one wants to endure no matter how trivial they may seem to others. I for one do not drive with my windows wound all the way down anymore nor do I carry the phone in my pockets. Instead it's inconveniently held in my hands or carried in a handbag. Call it paranoia or fear, it doesn't matter as long as I am not forced to relive the experiences I have had, even the milder ones still leaves you feeling cheated and violated especially if you like I store pictures of yourself, family and friends on these instruments.

Other preventative measures are:

  1. Register your phone - this allows it to be tracked and or barred when reported stolen
  2. Record and store all valuable phone data such as the IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number, phone model and type. It would be good to keep all the documents including the box that comes with your purchase
  3. Activate all security features for both handset and SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) card - this acts as a deterrent as they are useless if they cannot be accessed
  4. Carry your phone on a lanyard around your neck or in a bag - I would not recommend carrying it on your waist as this makes it highly visible and accessible just the same. Pants or shirt pockets are also not recommended
  5. Do not leave it unattended, not even for a second
  6. Try to minimize use in public areas - persons who are constantly on their phones in high traffic areas are basically alerting criminals
  7. Teach your children the importance of securing their phones and guide them on these measures
  8. Remain alert and report theft to your local network provider or police as soon as possible

These are just a few points from my own experiences and expertise. I am sure there are other methods that can be found through research. In the end do what works best for you.

Sources:

http://www.computerweekly.com/Articles/2009/03/18/235311/four-million-mobile-phone-users-risk-id-theft.htm

http://www.crimereduction.homeoffice.gov.uk/stolengoods/stolengoods3.htm

http://theos.in/technology/invented-mobile-phone-history/

Published by Camille Atkinson

I am Jamaican and I love to write. I love words and the many moods that they allow me to create on paper. Music on top, movies below and writing in the middle! Find me on Twitter if you can't find me...  View profile





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