MPD Telling it Like it is Vol. 7 – “We don’t see gentlemen bandits”

From MPD:

“Frighteningly reminiscent of the string of Robberies committed just for a pair of Air Jordan sneakers and The North Face coats, we are seeing a real pattern in the number of thefts, assaults and robberies involving your electronic devices, most notably your Smart devices. The device of choice is now your Apple iPhone and iPad as well as E-Readers.

As a society we appear to have the need to stay connected and that mentality is making you vulnerable to those that want these devices and oft times all your possessions. We compare walking around with your iPhone or iPad visible in public the same as holding hundreds of dollars in your hand.

Thefts and Robberies are not always with your compliance. We don’t see gentlemen bandits. Violent thieves and robbers are targeting you, the mobile device user, and we are witnessing victims with life threatening injuries, broken bones and jaws, dislocated arms and shoulders, broken or torn fingers and in some cases across the country, death.

This made-for-headlines trend is being called ‘apple picking‘, as robbers appear to be favoring iPhones and iPads for their brand recognition and higher street value. Though plenty of Android devices are being stolen, especially newer units like the Google Nexus tablet and the Samsung Galaxy.

I have listed a few of the following ways to reduce your victimization over this upcoming Holiday Season. While these tips are good all year long, we are spending and traveling at a greater rate now through New Years day. With your safety in mind, please review and share the following safety and awareness tips with your family, friends, relatives and associates.

Be aware of your surroundings.

The beauty of mobile devices is their ability to whisk you away mentally from your immediate environs through music, video, the Web. Problem is, that also happens to make you a perfect target for a thief or robber.

When out in public, put your device in your bag or inside a coat pocket. By being aware – and showing others that you are aware – this action alone could make the difference.

Designer products and “Bling” increases your victim profile.

Designer purses, messenger type bags and expensive executive briefcases raise your profile and put you at risk. Add to the crime equation your lack of focus while texting, searching for tunes and playing electronic games, raises the odds of being victimized. As my Risk Management mentor, Gordan Graham, reminds me of the adage “if it’s predictable, it’s preventable” certainly applies well here.

Traveling on mass transit for the holidays? One piece of travel advice is to not buy designer or fancy matching designer luggage. We have found that this sort of luggage is much more likely to be stolen.

You also want to be inconspicuous with your mobile devices. Those white ear buds Apple included with your iPhone? Total mugger bait. Put them away in favor of some generic ear buds or better yet, foam headphones.

Record your devices make, model and serial numbers and purchase insurance.

Do not store these serial numbers in your mobile devices for obvious reasons. In an urban environment or if you travel a lot for work or pleasure, consider getting specialized device insurance. Insurance companies offer them and protection and policies can be purchased through your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance and their “personal articles policy” option. The costs are reasonable and provide piece of mind.

Install Recovery Apps on your devices.

All of these apps let you track a lost or stolen device. Apple’s Find My iPhone is the standard for iOS. There are plenty of other options: Lookout Mobile and Where’s My Droid for Android, Find My Phone for Windows Phone 7, Prey and AirCover for multiple platforms.

These Apps have limitations: your device must be on, can’t be wiped or reformatted or had its SIM card taken out. Experienced thieves know this. If not, your battery will run out, too. Please keep in mind that time is of the essence in reporting to losses to law enforcement.

Always back up your device.

Monetary value is one thing, but what about all of those great photos of your friends and family that you took? The notes you took detailing that great business idea? All of your Contacts? Those can’t be replaced.

With iCloud, it’s easy to make sure your iPhone or iPad data is backed up to within the last 24 hours (you can also manually back up data whenever you have a Wi-Fi connection).

Choose life over your device.

Replacing an on-contract smartphone is about $200. The most expensive tablet costs less than $1,000 to replace. Your life is worth more than either of those amounts.

Teach and remind your kids and loved ones of these tips.

Besides installing device recovery apps and getting insurance, make sure you have “the talk” with them about being aware in public, reducing their crime profile and role playing scenarios where they may have to surrender their devices to an armed individual.

Shrink the Black Market.

We all like a bargain and we all hate to pay retail prices. Buying used is good for the environment and our shrinking budgets. However, do not fall victim to the deal that’s too good to be true, one time only deal, the deal that is only available for the next hour or by buying something that “fell off the back of a truck.”

Next time you are browsing ads for Samsung Galaxy Tablets on Craigslist, take care to avoid ads where the tablets are suspiciously cheap, or there’s some excuse why they are missing the cable and power supply, receipt, manual, box, etc. If you do contact them, say you need all of that stuff for warranty reasons or that you’re “a paperwork freak”.

If their excuses for not supplying you this stuff sound odd or do not pass the smell test, don’t just stop dealing with them; notify local law enforcement immediately and file a complaint with Craigslist.

Mark Beach
Assistant Patrol District Commander”

11 Comment

  • I read this and thought, I may as well never leave the house…..and I’m not a Smart-device/ tablet owner….here’s to the Holidays!

  • Exercise for the reader: rewrite the piece as a guide to avoiding sexual harassment or rape. This gets uncomfortable fast.

    • The difference: It’s easy to keep your smartphone out of sight in public. It’s much harder to hide the fact that you’re a woman in public.

    • gotryit

      They’re not blaming the victims – just pointing out things you can do to make your life better / less risky. And these don’t sound like disproven stereotypes.

  • Unfortunately there are certain aspects that you cant change that are also causing you to be targeted. (Race, Gender). Put yourself in the muggers shoes. Example: Thief has the option of mugging 5 people, which does he choose? He wants to attack the target with the most potential of reward that will also be the easiest. If you think being white and well dressed at the same time does not contribute as a factor you are kidding yourself.

  • “Frighteningly reminiscent of the string of Robberies committed just for a pair of Air Jordan sneakers
    and The North Face coats, we are seeing a real pattern in the number of thefts, assaults and

    Did anyone care when the crime was preceived to be black kids robbing black kids for shoes? The efforts should have started then to stop / decrease crime. Now a more (affluent) population moves to where the crime is and act shocked that there is crime.

    Fact –
    There is less crime in DC than 10 or even 5 years ago. ( But there was no internet to rile people up.)

  • An old story and always more of it around the holidays. This also is when odd, particularly senseless crimes occur. My first year here, a woman in Cleveland Park opened here door and was hot–totally random, no connection to the shooter.

    The clueless people walking down the street texting or listening to stuff that sounds tinny to passersby (which could be anything, but with volume so high as to be a problem)–those are the obvious targets. So are people who don’t have a place to stash the Ipad. Lots of phones and tablets walk away from food courts and outdoor seating on warm days.

    And there’s more crime, esp. theft EVERYWHERE this time of year. When my old job moved to the suburbs, we had the same thefts during the holidays that we did in DC, although no purse snatchings from cars with unlocked doors as people left the area. My current suburban job also has thefts during the holiday despite being in a supposedly secure building (which is why I mock the usual pearl clutching bout video cameras, security guards etc. as anything more than token, often cost-ineffective deterents).

  • I really wish they discussed bricking your phone. The sooner we can completely brick all devices remotely and without issues right after the robbery, the sooner the secondary market for stolen phones dries up.

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