According to a WSJ report (subscription required) that quotes NYPD transit chief Raymond Diaz, smartphone snatching has been rising at an alarming rate, although it’s not clear how much of that contributes to the 18% increase in grand larceny incidents in the first quarter of 2011. In any case, the Police suggests that “rush hour” is the preferred hunting time for the thieves. They choose spots where a “snatch and run” is easy, so those placing a call in the middle of a wagon are probably less at risk than users located near a door…
While this is a relatively new spike in NYC’s subway, it is definitely not a rarity elsewhere in the world. For instance a friend of mine just got her iPhone 4 snatched from her hand in Paris/France, and those who went to Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress can confirm that you’d better keep an eye on your smartphone while riding the subway.
What is even more surprising is that despite years of improved technology, there is still no way to definitely prevent stolen phones from being used again, thus reducing the incentive to steal/buy in the first place. Although there has been many efforts to do so in the past, the stolen device is likely to be usable in a foreign country, with a carrier that doesn’t care (most don’t). And that makes sense: carriers like new customers and have almost no incentive for stopping cellphone theft. After all, they might get a new customers out of it, and there’s nothing tastier than a phone that has been subsidized by someone else.
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