Surveys show that over one-half of Americans have reported a lost or stolen cell phone over the past year. And crime statistics are even more staggering. In New York, nearly forty percent of thefts and grand larcenies are of smartphones and other small consumer electronic devices, up from less than ten-percent just a decade ago. The problem has become so pervasive, that the slang term “Apple Picking” has emerged in urban slang to describe the phenomenon of targeting iOS devices like iPods, iPads and iPhones.
According to various law enforcement officials, people are not just having their cell phones taken, oftentimes assaults occur. Robbery by force has become common place. Devices are being taken at knife point or gun point, and since weapons are being used, it is oftentimes a felony crime.
Demand today for used cell phones and smartphones is at an all-time high. Smartphones are not only valuable to thieves because they are small, easily identifiable, easy to fence, and in high demand, but they are also valuable to identity thieves for the volume of personal information stored in their memory. Thieves can take advantage of email auto-logins skim through personal emails searching for both personal and financial information that can be used or sold.
In our recent study: What can be Done about the Epidemic of Smartphone Theft - Harnessing Technology to Eliminate the Black Market, I explore the problem and outline a solution that could virtually eliminate the black market demand for stolen smartphones. Prices today for working handsets range from a few dollars to several hundred dollars. These prices mirror the price-points and demand for subsidized handsets that can be purchased on contract through carrier channels.
If government agencies, regulatory bodies, service providers and industry associations like the GSMA, CTIA, and others can come together to create a single uniform database along with best practices for collection and sharing of information in a global unified effort, the black market goes away.
In much the same way that Mobile Number Portability and SMS Interconnection databases solve routing and interconnection issues, a Global Stolen Device database is needed because in many regions, when you report a phone stolen to your own service provider, while another individual is blocked from activating that device with that carrier, nothing prohibits taking it to a different carrier where it could potentially be activated because there is no way of knowing if it has been reported stolen or lost.
While service providers are often eager to implement cross industry solutions that improve customer service, prevent fraud, eliminate revenue leakage, and improve time to market for new services, I doubt they will be eager to subsidize a non-revenue generating activity. Governments MUST get involved and mandates must be made to ensure the safety of the general population. But like 911 services, another mandated expense to service providers - where service providers developed and pushed several Location Based Service offerings - there may be revenue generating activities for the Stolen Device Database. Perhaps data on devices within the database could be harnessed to create new applications, or better understand user profiles and device vulnerabilities.
Smartphone Theft: What Can Be Done About the Epidemic?
Reuse and Recycling: An introduction to the shifts in attitude around mobile phone use
Related Subscriptions :
Reuse & Recycling
James Brehm is a Geek, Technology Evangelist, Analyst, Consultant, and Senior Strategist at Compass Intelligence. Brehm is a frequent contributor to CNBC’s Closing Bell and is regularly quoted by media outlets such as the Hearst Corporation, RCR Wireless, TMC, The eCommerce Times, and Wireless Week.
Brehm leads M2M, IoT, and connected device research and custom consulting projects, represents Compass Intelligence at industry events and is a frequent speaker at industry gatherings on such topics as: M2M communications and the internet of things (IoT), 4G, VoIP, next-generation mobile infrastructure, cloud computing, mobile applications, mobile commerce, the security and compliance of web applications, emerging wireless devices and vertical market deployment of Web-enabled services.
In his spare time, Brehm spends time studying corporate social responsibility and sustainability initiatives. Additionally, he actively volunteers with Liberia Now, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization with the mission to transform Liberian communities through projects in education, infrastructure, healthcare, economic development, and spiritual renewal.
You can contact James at email@example.com
or follow him on twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/jamesbrehm