Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
  Space Industry and Business News  

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

'iCrime' wave fuelled by insatiable appetite for smartphones

by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) Dec 20, 2010
The fashionable folk tapping on Blackberrys or using apps on iPhones in New York, Paris or Barcelona have more in common than a taste for expensive hand-held devices.

They are also likely to be targeted by thieves in a smartphone crime wave fuelled by the enormous appetite for the machines that serve as status symbols, essential worktools and mobile entertainment centres.

The Paris police chief sounded the alarm last week when he said smartphones were the hottest item for thieves on the city's metro and that robbers were increasingly turning to violence to get their hands on them.

Seventy percent of all phones stolen on the transport system are now iPhones or Blackberrys or the other smartphones that can cost hundreds of euros (dollars), according to police figures.

Three men were beaten up in Paris, and one was stabbed, when they were set upon a week ago by a gang who wanted their iPhones. That was just one of the hundreds of violent incidents that police say happen in the French capital every month, three quarters of them involving telephone thefts.

In Britain, a 30-strong National Mobile Phone Crime Unit is battling what a police spokesman said is "a general increase in the proportion of thefts which involve smartphones."

Susana Ramirez, a 29-year-old author and newspaper columnist in the Spanish city Barcelona, told AFP that a blog she wrote about her fear of using her iPhone in public sparked a huge response from her readers.

"I look to the right and to the left before I get out my phone," she wrote in the blog. "As if, instead of a phone, I was about to take out a knife or a stash of drugs on the street."

In New York, public announcements warn subway commuters not to display phones or other electronic devices.

But few heed the warnings, and an average train sees many travellers hunched over their devices typing texts, watching video or playing games.

"It's like smoking. The consumer knows the risks but prefers to ignore them," said Jack Wraith, chairman of Britain's Mobile Industry Crime Action Forum.

"You can put applications on smartphones that make it absolutely impossible for a thief to access the data that's on there or to have any use out of the phone but very few people will do that," he lamented.

Wraith noted that Britain and many other countries had systems in place that render stolen phones useless by blocking them from national networks by using the handset's unique International Mobile Equipment Identity number.

But that has led to stolen phones being shipped abroad for sale in places like eastern Europe, Algeria, Morocco, or West Africa, where an iPhone can fetch several hundred dollars and up to 1,000 if it contains data that can be exploited for credit card or other fraud, he said.

Wraith said he did not believe that the risk of getting mugged would deter people from investing in smartphones because iPhones and Blackberrys are "iconic" items.

AFP requested an interview with both Apple and Research In Motion, the firm that makes Blackberrys, to ask if they thought the fear of theft might damage their sales and whether they should issue a health warning with every handset.

"We decline to comment," said Apple in an email, while Research In Motion failed to deliver on its promise to provide a spokesperson for comment.

Sales of both firms' smartphones are soaring, with Apple shifting 14.1 million iPhone units in the third quarter and Canada's Research in Motion shipped 12.4 million Blackberry devices, according to industry figures.

The huge and growing appetite for smartphones pushed global sales of mobile phones to a whopping 340.5 million units in the third quarter of 2010 alone, says industry tracker IDC.

That likely means that thefts of the machines are also soaring.

Consumers can protect themselves by taking out a good insurance policy or by buying an app that allows iPhone owners to remotely locate their lost or stolen set using its GPS system.

There were two reports in the past week alone -- one from Australia, the other from the US -- of police helicopters which happened to be in the area tracking down stolen iPhones using the GPS app and arresting the robbers.


Share This Article With Planet Earth DiggDigg RedditReddit
YahooMyWebYahooMyWeb GoogleGoogle FacebookFacebook

Related Links
Space Technology News - Applications and Research

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Japan's Sharp to build LCD lines for smartphones: report
Tokyo (AFP) Dec 17, 2010
Japan's Sharp Corp. will build production lines to make small and midsized liquid crystal displays for smartphones including Apple's iPhone, a report said Friday. Sharp will invest about 100 billion yen (1.2 billion dollars) in the project with Apple shouldering a large portion of the sum and buying most of the panels produced, the Nikkei business daily said. A Sharp spokeswoman declined ... read more

Berkeley Researchers Discover Mobius Symmetry In Metamaterials

New Google TV sets facing delays: reports

'iCrime' wave fuelled by insatiable appetite for smartphones

Japan telecom firm KDDI to start e-book distribution

Arianespace Will Orbit Sicral 2 Milcomms Satellites

Codan Receives JITC Certification For 2110 HF Manpack

Northrop Grumman Bids for Marine Corps Common Aviation CnC

DSP Satellite System Celebrates 40 Years

ISRO Puts Off GSLV Launch

Arianespace To Launch ESA's First Sentinel Satellite

ISRO Set To Launch Heaviest Satellite For Telecom And TV

The Flight Of The Dragon

Universal Address And GPS Enhanced Google Maps For iPhones

New GeoGroups App Reinvents Geo-Social Experience

NAVTEQ Expands Global R And D Capabilities

Officials Complete GPS Software Upgrade Ahead Of Schedule

China opens skies to private air transport

European airports race to clear Christmas backlog

Air Force Flight Control Improvements

Britain's axed Harrier jets take final flight

S.Korea's Hynix says chip price slump will hit Q4 profit

Iridium Memories

Making Wafers Faster By Making Features Smaller

Taiwan scientists claim microchip 'breakthrough'

Plant Consumption Rising Significantly As Population And Economies Grow

NASA Satellite Data Addresses Needs Of California Growers

Satellites Give An Eagle Eye On Thunderstorms

Unstable Antarctica: What's Driving Ice Loss

New Catalysts Hold Promise For Air Quality

Toxic Toy Crisis Requires Fresh Solutions

Arrests in Greece over disputed waste landfill

US environmentalists sue ExxonMobile over air pollution

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement