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New Ways to Catch a Phone Thief

June 1, 2014
Plain English Version

New ways to catchThe chances of your smartphone being stolen are going up. Last year, 3.1 million Americans had their phones stolen. That is double the number stolen in 2012.

The phones have high resale values and a big second-hand market. The phone companies are not doing enough to stop the crime spree.

This week a security company is introducing a new way to catch thieves. The company is called Lookout. It cost $30 a year. It also blocks unsafe websites.

Lookout takes a photo of the person who has stolen your phone. The photo is taken when there is odd behavior on your phone. For example, if a screen password is mistyped three times. You get an email with the photo and the location of the person holding your phone. Folks are calling it a “theftie.”

In Dyersburg, Tennessee a woman had her Lookout protected phone stolen in a Walmart. She gave the Lookout photos to the police and also posted them on Facebook. A few days later the thief turned himself in.  A local policeman said, “Pictures don’t lie.”

It should be said that the person holding your phone may have found it and not stolen it.

Most recent smartphones have free software that can report their location. They can also remotely lock themselves and erase all their content. The phone has to be turned on before it is stolen.

Android phones, such as new Samsung, have similar features. Another service is called Absolute LoJack. It comes embedded in new Samsung Galaxy phones. It also costs $30.

The iPhone can be locked and tracked. The activation lock makes its hard to reset and sell the phone. However, a thief can take out the SIM card and turn off the Wi-Fi. The good news is that the thief cannot sell it. The bad news is that you cannot locate it.

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