Dear PoP – Should I repace my stolen iPhone with an iPhone?

Photo by PoPville flickr user idit.

“Dear PoP,

I have heard a lot about people getting their iPhones stolen around the District, but I wanted to help spread the awareness a little more. Last night, coming off the Woodley Park metro around 8:00 p.m., I had my phone forcefully taken from me while I was talking on it by two young men who exited the metro station behind me. Luckily, I wasn’t hurt, and they only seemed to be interested in taking my phone. Police responded and informed me that this keeps happening all over the city. So people need to be careful while talking on smart phones, especially in the evening.

I haven’t decided on a replacement phone yet, but I’m wondering if it would be stupid to purchase another iPhone as they seem to make their owners walking targets. What do you think?”

Unfortunately, as you noted, iPhones have been getting stolen for months. I’d say if you really like the iPhone then you should replace it with one. Maybe you could keep the phone in your pocket and use headphones if you are feeling vulnerable?

What do you guys think – do you think iPhones present too tempting a target to some and aren’t worth the risk of carrying one around?

90 Comment

  • Emmaleigh504

    I love my iphone. I would replace it. I don’t feel at all like a target with it.

  • ah

    This sucks for the OP, but isn’t deciding to buy something else solely because of the risk of theft basically admitting you aren’t capable of taking a few sensible precautions? Theft sucks, but I’ll bet you’ll be a lot more careful with your new iPhone as a result.

  • I just don’t talk on the phone when I’m out. Honestly–I pretty much completely stopped using my smart phone when I’m walking around after I got mugged last year. If I’m on the street, I basically only pull it out to check NextBus at commute times. It makes me feel like slightly less of a target and it’s safer in general.

    I’m not a huge phone person, though, so ymmv.

    • Of all the pointless reasons to pull out an iphone, checking nextbus has to be the worst.

      • i couldn’t agree less.

      • Its so you know when the next bus is coming, get it? Its kind of essential to getting around. Nice ‘tude though.

        • Wow, someone’s overly defensive today.

          I would agree with you IF nextbus were somewhat reliable or accurate. A local news source (City Paper I think) did a study on it last year and found you’re better off going by the schedules.

  • You might like a Droid better if you gave it a chance. I’d atleast go check out a Droid. Apple products aren’t really better in most cases – they just have a cult following.

    • Yeah, get a Droid. Those grainy displays are so much bigger, you won’t mind lugging the extra weight around and all that SAR won’t really hurt you, that’s just a myth.

      • Most of the Droid’s I’ve seen look like an alternate history version of the iPhone, if the Soviet Union under Brezhnev had won the Cold War. Is that still the case?

        • lol
          YES and they’re hella expensive. Wish they would be more creative than trying to just create an alternative (aka copy)

    • I have had 2 droids, over the past 2 years or so, and as soon as this one is done, I’m getting an iphone. I hate the droids. They’re definitely not better. They fit the bill when I didnt want to go to AT&T, but now that V has the iphone, there’s no reason to ever buy a droid again. They’re terrible.

  • iPhone’s time has passed. Time for an Android phone with 4G.

  • Keeping your phone in your pocket in favor of using headphones is trading one vulnerability for another. We’ve heard stories here and in the general news about people conked over the head for their purses/backpacks who were basically unaware of someone creeping up on them because of their headphones.

    Awareness of your surroundings is the key. Go ahead and get the phone you like and want. You just have to be more careful about when and where you use it. If you have to scan the street every once in a while, then do it.

  • Is there any kind of iphone security device? I’m thinking of a bracelet that fits around your wrist while you talk on the phone. the bracelet has a string attached to the phone so if someone tries to take it they find it is attached to your arm. I have a similar device to stop my kid from throwing his sippy cup off the stroller. Also using a hands free device and storing your phone in a pocket or purse could be helpful. My vote is to replace it but take security measures into account next time.

  • There is an app for that…

    Well, not replacing your phone. Eveyone I know has that iphone tracking app. If your phone is stolen or lost, you get online, lock it, then you can track it with the phones GPS. You can even command the phone to give off a screeching alarm if you want.

    Considering the threat of iphone theft is so high in this town, I would just download the app. At the very least you can tell the police exactly where it is via the tracking function.

    • what’s the name of the app, por favor.

      • don’t know, don’t have an iphone myself. I am sure it is a pretty easy search at the ap store.

      • App is called: Find iPhone.
        You then hae to do some setup through MobleMe (this function is free). Setup is pretty simple and quick

        • The only problem with this app is that it does not work when the phone is off, and the likelihood of you being on the computer searching for your phone at the time that the robber turns it on is very slim.

          • Except that they are probably stealing your phone to use it or sell it to someone else to use. The only question would be if they do a full wipe on the phone, but presumably Apple was smart enough to tie the Iphone Finder to a unique MAC address or something similar. #technobabble

    • “You can even command the phone to give off a screeching alarm if you want. ”

      That sounds like a great way to have the police recover a smashed to shit iPhone.

  • Replace it, but then STOP USING IT ON THE STREET.

  • houseintherear

    I wouldn’t walk around with $300 cash in my hand, and I don’t walk around with my iPhone in my hand. Buy another one, and put it AWAY. People can’t take what they don’t know you have.

    • Umm… yeah, they can. I have a number of friends who’ve been robbed and asked to empty their pockets… pretty sure those thieves managed to “take what they [didn’t] know you had.”

  • In any other country you can assign one phone number/SIM account to two phones. I wish you could do that here– it would be handy for smartphone users to have a cheap phone to use in situations where it could get stolen or damaged.

  • Joker is right… if you have an iPhone, make sure you set up “find my iPhone” before yours gets stolen/left in a cab.

  • The (An)droid plug notwithstanding, from forty paces all smartphones look pretty similar. The only way to be “safe” though phone purchasing decisions would be to get an old RAZR or or a candybar Nokia, or something equally shabby.

    As an aside, everyone I know who got an iPhone is thrilled with it (as am I).


  • isn’t there a way to track a stolen smartphone with the GPS?

    • oops nevermind after seeing joker’s comment

      • I know this feature/app exists, but I’m not sure the gps on an iphone works well enough to actually recover the phone unless you’re willing to knock on a bunch of doors.

  • Yes they can be tracked, yes the providers can do it and can work with the police to locate. They should do this as a disincentive to have them targeted. Once word gets out that all you have stolen is what amounts to a leg monitor that allows MPD to show up at your door, this will continue. Apple et al don’t care because you’ll likely buy a new one. The carriers think its just a hassle (and more customers), the MPD is too lazy to actually do some sleuthing.

    Finally, the only answer that would likely work in DC is that we raise taxes and give all “underprivledged” DC residents their own subsidized iPhones so they don’t have to liberate their own from myopic twits.

  • Replace it. Mine broke a while back and I feel like I have lost an appendage.

  • Can’t anybody unplug for more than five minutes anymore? Breathe in the spring air, listen to the birds, say hi to your neighbors, and enjoy the sights of the city. I feel bad for all you people wrapped up in your gadgets. Do you check your e-mail when you’re having sex, too?

    • For some of us who are really busy it’s the only chance we have to get the call in. Especially if it’s to some customer service place with limited hours that puts you on hold for 45 miuntes.

      • Based on the multitudes of vapid conversations I overhear on the street and metro, the types of calls you describe are in the vast minority.

      • I have to agree – the 5 or 6 minutes it takes to have sex can be the perfect time to make and receive those pesky calls you haven’t had a chance to get to during the rest of the day.

    • +multi-millions.

      Cracks me up to see two people, presumably on a date, sitting across a lovely dinner from each other, both texting.

      Unplug and live your life.

      • Must be nice if you and your spouse both have jobs where you can leave your work at work!

        • Actually, we both work two jobs, but we choose to place a priority on our relationship, our marriage and the rare moments we have to enjoy a night out together. So, at those times, we focus on each other, not our phones – or our work.

        • Maybe that is your problem.

          It sounds like it is not the lack of time but the lack of good time managment.

          • My spouse is an IT security PM on a high visibility project. As much as I hate it when she has to take a call at dinner, she can’t just ignore her client or her CEO when they call.

      • agreed. I own a smartphone and whenever I’m out with the SO, I make a point to never check it, even if I hear it go off. My SO is far more attractive and interesting than my phone, or anything else within easy reach, anyway. The only time I’ll pull it out is to look up some info about a conversation we’re having.

    • before and after.. lol

  • Err.. no. Get a much more capable and value for money phone instead.

  • I wouldn’t use an iphone outdoors or away from home. However it’s great to have around the house.

  • Do you have the app to find your phone?

  • I think life is too short to worry over whether buying something will make you a target of a crime of opportunity. Buy what you want, be as careful as you can about when and where you use it, and make peace with the idea that no matter how many precautions you take, bad things can still happen.

    To answer your question further, no I would not buy an iPhone now. I’d wait until the iPhone 5 comes out in a couple of months. Unless you don’t care about having the latest bells and whistles, in which case AT&T is selling the 3Gs for $49.

  • Poon is interested in data before he worries about phone theft. How often is this happening? Does Poon have a 1-in-10 chance of getting phone-jacked, or a 1-in-1000 chance? If it’s 1-in-1000, is it really worth worrying about?

    Poon’s a big man, too. Perhaps there’s less risk for a big man than a small woman. We should really know how often this happens before we start counselling people to avoid smart phones out of fear.

  • Remotely detonated iPhone explosion – isn’t there an app for that?

  • After hearing about people getting roughed up I put mine away when walking around at night.
    Yes we need to unplug as a society but I’d also really appreciate increased metro police presence to prevent thefts in transit. I’d also think it’d be worth stationing MPD Officers around station entrances.

  • How much would it cost to replace it? I paid $150 for my iphone, but I think it would cost like $650 to replace it. So I would buy the cheapest one and wait 2 years to be eligible for an upgrade.

  • Get it w/ insurance next time.

  • You laugh at me (Marie) but this is the phone I have and it is not only the most reliable, but the most common phone on the planet:!5634258/the-most-popular-phone-in-the-world

    Nokia 1100

    You can get them at best buy, they won’t WANT to sell them to you because they don’t make any profit from them, but they are simply speaking the best phone in the world. nuff said.

  • Since my first iPod way back when I’ve never worn the infamous white headphones. In my opinion, it just screams “I HAVE AN iPOD/PHONE!”

    Get basic black ones, be aware of your surroundings, and if you see someone eying your phone, put it away immediately.

  • What you need is an iPhone case that looks like a nineties-era Nokia.

  • Replace it. Just be careful when using- take responsibility for your own safety and your own possessions.

  • Phone insurance makes replacement much less of a hassle, though AT&T does charge more to insure iPhone 4 than their other phones

  • What do these little sh#ts do with the phones they steal? Can’t MPD, Apple, or someone work to disrupt the networks that buy the stolen goods? Would go a long way to curb these urban terrorist thugs.

    • Apple [as well as the service providers] have no incentive to stop these thefts or disrupt the service to these stolen phones. They know most folks will buy another one, and begin their service contract for another multi-year period.

    • Phase One: Steal smart phones

      Phase Two:

      Phase Three: Profit!

    • i’m sure they’ve never thought about that.

  • vz

    That sucks but come on, set up Find my iPhone next time. It’s free and easy and it’s a bit tough to find sympathy for anyone who loses their phone if they didn’t at least bother to take the simple precaution of setting up GPS tracking (if you did and they were smart enough to immediately wipe the phone then um…we’ve got some impressively geeky/competent thieves in this town who could be doing much better with their lives).

    • do you know anyone who has recovered a stolen phone this way? honestly curious about this.

      my understanding is that the iphone gps is accurate to ~500 meters, which wouldn’t seem very helpful if your thief lives somewhere dense, like an apartment building or housing project.

Comments are closed.