Smartphone theft has gotten totally out of control; the FCC reports that 30 percent of ALL robberies in the U.S. are stolen phones. That's because resale of phones is so lucrative — and with online services offering top-dollar, so easy.
It's gotten bad enough that some cities are attempting to legislate that new phones be sold with "kill switches." These switches are a way to disable a phone entirely once it's reported stolen — both calls and Internet usage would be blocked by the program, which would render the phone useless by the owner. Apple has already implemented this feature in the newest iPhone as an opt-in feature. But where does that leave those of us with older phones or other types of smartphones?
How about getting up-close (if not personal) with your smartphone thief, by snapping a theftie (like a selfie, but of your thief)? This is a picture taken with the front-facing phone camera in most smartphones, which can help local law-enforcement personnel find the person who took your phone, or let you know if one of your friends is ripping you off.
The smartphone security company Lookout is currently marketing the program for both iOS and Android operating systems, and it's about more than just snapping surreptitious photos (though that's the most weirdly futuristic part) — you also get email alerts if it seems like someone is tampering with your phone (entering the wrong security code or trying to remove all the software from the phone, etc.). It also GPS-tracks the phone so you can locate it. And the theftie photo? You get the pictures emailed to your computer with a map showing you exactly where they were taken.
If you're worried about your smartphone getting stolen, this might be a good option; or you can just keep using your really busted-up looking iPhone and never upgrade. (Who would want to steal a phone with a cracked screen? That's my tactic.)
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