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'Honey Stick' Project Tracks Fate of Lost Smartphones

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the tweeting-as-strangers dept.

Handhelds 222

wiredmikey writes with a quote from an article at Secury Week: "In order to get a look at what happens when a smartphone is lost, Symantec conducted an experiment, called the Honey Stick Project, where 50 fully-charged mobile devices were loaded with fake personal and corporate data and then dropped in publicly accessible spots in five different cities ...Tracking showed that 96-percent of the devices were accessed once found (PDF), and 70-percent of them were accessed for personal and business related applications and information. Less than half of the people who located the intentionally lost devices attempted to locate the owner. Interestingly enough, only two phones were left unaccounted for; the others were all found."

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222 comments

hehe (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39333681)

Best way to get a phone back. LOUD annoying ringtone.

Loose that sucker. Call it and call it and call it...

Eventually "come get your freeking phone it is ringing off the hook with this stupid song"...

Has worked 3 times so far :)

Re:hehe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39334763)

Best way to get a phone back. LOUD annoying ringtone.

Loose that sucker. Call it and call it and call it...

Eventually "come get your freeking phone it is ringing off the hook with this stupid song"...

Has worked 3 times so far :)

I SAW THE SIGN, IT OPENED UP MY EYES I SAW THE SIGN.

too funny.

If I were to find one... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39333691)

I won't care about the contents, would wipe the phone clean, and change the IMEI, then it's a brand new phone for me. (most likely what happened to the 2 unaccounted for)

Re:If I were to find one... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39333723)

Stealing is stealing. Finders keepers is a poor excuse for a total lack of character.

Re:If I were to find one... (4, Insightful)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 2 years ago | (#39333907)

Stealing is stealing. Finders keepers is a poor excuse for a total lack of character.

The term "stealing" sure has changed a lot lately. I thought is was actively depriving someone of wanted property. So "copying" is not "stealing." Claiming discarded items is not "stealing." Hitting you over the head and taking it out of your pocket is "stealing." That said, I would try and find the owner to give back the phone. And not doing so is kinda shitty, but it ain't "stealing."

Re:If I were to find one... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39333977)

And your reply is testimony to the "kinda shitty" attitudes with our modern society. Character is what you do when no one will ever know what you did. You and he have none. I would love to reply under my login, but evidently replies like this keep my karma level in the basement.

Re:If I were to find one... (5, Insightful)

Jhon (241832) | more than 2 years ago | (#39333993)

Claiming a lost item is "discarded" is some pretty funny "thinkspeak", don't you think?

I'd suggest you look up what can be considered theft and then re-evaluate your statement.

I cannot speak of the 49 other states in the US, but I'm familiar with the statutes of CA -- and I can tell you that it *IS* stealing. Shall I waste my time looking up the exact statutes or will you just accept you are wrong?

Re:If I were to find one... (5, Informative)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 2 years ago | (#39334447)

Well, technically, it would be larceny here in the states. In other words, "borrowing" without intent to give back to the owner.

Re:If I were to find one... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39334621)

While it may be classified as stealing by law, morally it's fine.

Shame morality and the law never seem to match. =/

Re:If I were to find one... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39334669)

That depends entirely on your morals. I know mine wouldn't call "taking other peoples' stuff without permission, implicit or otherwise" okay.

Re:If I were to find one... (0)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 2 years ago | (#39334937)

You might want to look at the "Abandoned Property" statutes. Those are the ones that say if you leave a car in my yard, after a while I can keep it.

Re:If I were to find one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39335027)

Someone needs to google "adverse possession of chattels." Have you ever heard the phrase that possession is nine-tenths of the law? Cell phones are a slightly different case since it's not terribly difficult to discern the true owner, but in general abandoned property law is best summed up by the old finders/keepers rule.

Re:If I were to find one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39335207)

What is this "abandoned" that you speak of? Isn't that when you walk away from something willingly, knowingly?

A guy's phone falls out of his pocket, he LOST it. You are parsing words trying to justify STEALING it.

The moral thing to do is to try to return it.

Loser.

Re:If I were to find one... (4, Interesting)

arkhan_jg (618674) | more than 2 years ago | (#39335315)

Advere possession only applies if the owner knows (or should know) you have it, but doesn't care. So if you find a mobile phone and tell the owner that you've got it, and they never turn up to claim it, after a while it becomes yours. Same goes for land; if you occupy it (by for example, building your fence over part of their land), and they allow it without some specific contract lease or something, then eventually it becomes yours - after 10 years, I think.

Picking something up, keeping it and telling nobody, does not qualify under adverse possession.

Re:If I were to find one... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39334245)

Actively is where you are wrong. Stealing is depriving someone of their property (active or not, please look it up). Lost property is still their property.

If you wish to convert a lost object to be your own, you need to bring the property to the police and allow them to attempt to contact the owner. After a certain mount of time it will be considered abandoned property, at which point the police will give it to you and it really is yours then.

You absolutely can be charged with theft, and are morally wrong to right away convert it to your own use.

There are exceptions, for example, in the case of finding it in the garbage, then it is already declared abandoned property.

Re:If I were to find one... (1)

i286NiNJA (2558547) | more than 2 years ago | (#39334609)

Yeah if you find something that was lost and you can return it but don't... It's stealing. Plus if you have my phone it's 1) locked 2) GPS tracked, and 3) going to be reported stolen if for whatever reason I can't get it back (Like I come to your house and you act confused) The police are regularly notified when stolen phones are brought in to get activated, I've seen it happen before.

Re:If I were to find one... (5, Informative)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 2 years ago | (#39334741)

Hypothetically speaking, because I would try to contact the owner and return it, in a real situation, but...

If I were going to steal a cell phone, the first thing I would do is pull the battery. The second thing I would do is factory reset it, either by reflashing it from a computer, or from within the phone if it's not locked. The third thing I would do is change the IMEI.

All of the above are ridiculously easy (well, pulling the battery from an iPhone isn't), and would leave me with a phone that can't be located by you, and which can't be burned by the carrier because it has a different IMEI. Sell it as "off the back of a truck" for a few hundred, and you're done. Rinse. Repeat.

And if it's a GSM phone, there's no "bringing it in to get activated". Buy a SIM. Put it in. Hey look, it's activated!

Re:If I were to find one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39334761)

Do "discarded" and "lost" mean the same thing in your little brain? No wonder society's gone to shit.

Re:If I were to find one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39334841)

The term "stealing" sure has changed a lot lately. I thought is was actively depriving someone of wanted property.

What do you think keeping someones lost property is?

Re:If I were to find one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39334897)

Stealing is stealing. Finders keepers is a poor excuse for a total lack of character.

The term "stealing" sure has changed a lot lately. I thought is was actively depriving someone of wanted property. So "copying" is not "stealing." Claiming discarded items is not "stealing." Hitting you over the head and taking it out of your pocket is "stealing." That said, I would try and find the owner to give back the phone. And not doing so is kinda shitty, but it ain't "stealing."

Where I live, it's a misdemeanor, Theft of Lost or Mislaid Property.

Re:If I were to find one... (5, Insightful)

arkhan_jg (618674) | more than 2 years ago | (#39335257)

Claiming discarded items is not "stealing."

Much as I see where you're coming from; actually it is under the law. Lost property remains the property of the original owner, they don't give up ownership to anyone that finds it - just as your house remains yours when you leave in the morning, so your phone remains yours if you leave it on a bench. There are means to legally acquire abandoned property though - adverse possession for example.

So if you were to notify the owner that you have their property, and they can't be bothered to collect it, after a period of time it legally becomes yours. You can also hand it into the police, and again, after a period of time of non-collection they may return it to the finder to keep (in the UK; a friend of mine when we were kids handed in a found £50 note, and got it back a few months later when it was unclaimed).

This is why if you unknowingly buy a stolen car, and the owner finds out and claims it back - via reporting it to the police - you get stiffed. The person that sold you the car had no legal right of ownership to transfer, so you own bupkiss, and the original owner gets to claim it back.

Of course, in practise physical possession is 9/10's of the law, especially for small objects that are hard to track down once mislaid. But picking up a dropped/mislaid item and keeping it, is in fact, stealing - you're intentionally depriving someone else of their property, even if you don't know who that someone is. Best choice is to hand the item into a responsible person where you found it; the barman or shopkeeper for example, as it is fairly likely the owner will attempt to find it via them. Alternatively, hand it into the police with details of where you found it. Keeping it and attempting to return it directly is of course an option, but you might get accused of stealing it in the first place! Leaving it exactly where it was is also an option often forgotten - the owner may well come back for it in a minute.

Personally, I've returned a fair few items ( though mostly to someone who's literally just dropped it or left it), but including a lady's purse that had all her things that she left in a supermarket trolley, via the shop-keeper. They contacted me later to say that she was extremely happy and surprised to get it all back untouched - apparently there was her pension in there, and she'd expected that at least to go missing. On the other hand, I've had a dropped camera disappear in the 5 minutes it took to come back for it; a wallet that wasn't mine popped back through my letterbox (turned out to be a neighbours); and my dropped wallet returned by a guy walking behind me. A friend of mine also got his laptop back that he left in a taxi; the taxi driver tracked him down and dropped it off personally.

So you never know; there are a lot more honest people out there than you'd think.

Re:If I were to find one... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39333771)

Should you ever lose your phone, expect the same thing to happen to you.

Re:If I were to find one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39333855)

I'd expect the same to happen to me... which is why I agree with him. Is it so hard just to accept we should look after our shit?

Re:If I were to find one... (5, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#39334389)

Is it hard to accept that we do NOT have a moral right to act like a dick?

Re:If I were to find one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39334865)

I consider your sentiment dickish, and require that you be censored.

Re:If I were to find one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39335377)

True, but few Americans give a shit about morality unless it involves telling other people what to do.

Re:If I were to find one... (5, Insightful)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 2 years ago | (#39333921)

Should you ever lose your phone, expect the same thing to happen to you.

He does. He thinks that is normal. He thinks most people are like that. Can you imaging how much it sucks to live in his world?

Re:If I were to find one... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39334069)

Since it did happen, it appears he lives in the real world. The real question though, is what world is it that you live in?

Re:If I were to find one... (4, Insightful)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 2 years ago | (#39334965)

I live in a world where most people who find the phone would try and give it back. In my world, people like that are the exception, not the rule.

Re:If I were to find one... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39334279)

Imagine how much it sucks to live in a world where most people actually are like that and you are not. The only person you can change is you. Still convinced he made a bad choice?

Re:If I were to find one... (1, Interesting)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 2 years ago | (#39334311)

Yeah, it sucks. The snooping is a natural result of voyeurism perceived as normal in this society. Reality TV and social networking are proof that people are willing to give up their privacy for attention, and so people wishing to dig into private details feel that it is the norm rather than the exception. Dignity and respect of privacy no longer have meaning in this society.

All of the phones used in the experiment were "smartphones." What model of smartphone? Would people feel compelled to steal and reprogram these phones for their own use if they were not so flashy and overfeatured? Do people really need the always-on connectivity and eye candy that smartphones provide? Are they really so important that they cannot wait to get to their workplace to do business? Obviously not, because if they were important, then their employer would accommodate their desire to not have to be tied to the job 24/7.

My phone is not smart. It does not have a touchscreen, but it has a camera and can take videos. It has limited internet ability. Yet, if my phone was stolen, I would not fret because it is ugly, scraped-up, and the worst a theif will find is a picture of me sucking on a Mexican titty. Nobody would want to steal that piece of shit. And I'm fine with that.

Re:If I were to find one... (1)

yotto (590067) | more than 2 years ago | (#39334453)

So what you're saying is, if you need a smart phone, you shouldn't need a smart phone?

FTR I don't need my smart phone, but it sure is nice.

I lost a phone once. It was expensive but not all that smart. The person who found it accessed it to find my parents' phone number and call them to tell them where the phone was. I guess I won that coin toss of a chance.

Re:If I were to find one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39334767)

Nobody needs a smartphone.

-- Ethanol-fueled

Re:If I were to find one... (1)

DannyTUK (2469406) | more than 2 years ago | (#39333775)

Can you really not see what is so horrendously wrong with all that you just wrote?

Re:If I were to find one... (1)

cdrudge (68377) | more than 2 years ago | (#39334177)

Poor use of grammar, improper capitalization, and bad punctuation. But this is Slashdot so it's not horrendously wrong really...just par for the course.

No, probalby not (2, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#39334465)

He is likely a Sociopath, incapable of empathizing with others, caring only about his own feelings. While we associate that with serial killers, and indeed all serial killers are, a surprising amount of the population is like that, about 10%. They cannot feel empathy as we do, they can't put themselves in the shoes of another person. All that matters to them is their happiness. So they are the kind of people who will do something to someone and not think twice, but if the same thing is done to them they will get extremely angry. They cannot see that it is the same, to them it is completely different because only their feelings matter.

Re:No, probalby not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39334509)

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM-IV, published by the American Psychiatric Association (2000), defines narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) as someone whose behavior is fittingly described by five of nine characteristics. These include: (1) an exaggerated sense of self-importance; (2) fantasies of extraordinary success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love; (3) belief that one is ''special'' and should only associate with and can only be understood by other high-status people; (4) demand for excessive admiration from others; (5) a sense of entitlement; (6) objectification of others to achieve personal ends and gratification; (7) lack of empathy; (8) envy of others or belief that others are envious of oneself; (9) haughty, arrogant, patronizing, or contemptuous behavior or attitudes toward others.

Re:No, probalby not (4, Interesting)

wisty (1335733) | more than 2 years ago | (#39334545)

No, he's just annoyed at the legalistic interpretation of moral judgements.

If I find $10 on the side of the road (and can't see who dropped it), I'm going to pocket it. Finders keepers. Technically, it's a crime, but it's not (IMO) wrong.

If it's traceable (i.e. a wallet, phone) I'll make a reasonable effort to trace the owner, or hand it over to the police.

To me, it depends on whether the owner is likely to get it back anyway. It's reasonable to assume that dropped money is never coming back. It's reasonable to assume that a dropped wallet will be picked up by someone who will make an effort to return it, or found by the owner (who's going to be looking). The police might not make a distinction, but I do. Sometimes the law (or what people assume the law is) can be "wrong". That's his point.

Re:No, probalby not (1)

EchoRomeo (2582713) | more than 2 years ago | (#39335039)

What you said is different. It also depends on what the lost/found property was and the setting in which you find it. It's impossible to find out who that $10 bill in the street belongs to. The smartphone has information and contacts you can use to find the owner. You can even drop it off at the carriers store and ask them to contact the phones owner.

Re:No, probalby not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39334631)

Actually it's 4% (4 in 100, 1 in 25), and 3 out of these 4 are males, 1 out of these 4 are females.

Re:If I were to find one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39334611)

Congratulations! Now you are a common criminal. Don't forget to smoke weed and beat your wife when not using your newly stolen phone.

Less than half (5, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 2 years ago | (#39333747)

Just out of curiousity, how many of these phones were able to actually send/receive calls, and (most importantly) -- did they have a phone book entry titled "Mom". Because whenever I find a lost phone, that's the number I call. People are generally honest -- contrary to what this study suggests. If the number is that low, it's probably something wrong with the methodology; ie, a cell phone left at a restaurant has a lot higher chance of making it back to its owner than being left sitting at a bus station. A test like this should try to accurately reproduce where someone would leave their phone, otherwise the stats gathered aren't very interesting.

Re:Less than half (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39333839)

I wonder if some of the finding have nothing more sinister behind them than curiosity? I mean, "Saved Passwords"? isn't that kinda of begging for someone to read? Just to find out what other people use?

Re:Less than half (4, Insightful)

medcalf (68293) | more than 2 years ago | (#39333859)

Or ICE (In case of emergency) or Home. Yeah. That's actually one of the problems I have with the iPhone: it doesn't have a way to phone home if you find it locked.

Re:Less than half (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39334071)

it can only phone (its) home on its own, and then it's behind your back, fully automated, and with no way to disable.

Re:Less than half (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39335133)

I once found an iPhone 4, locked, of course. I took the SIM card out, contacted the service provider. They where not able to reach the owner, but left a note on their account with my name and phone number.

After a month, I called back. They could not find the account to which I was referring to because the owner changed phone, and ,evidently, SIM cards, disassociating it with the account.

I ended up selling it,

Re:Less than half (2)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 2 years ago | (#39333869)

Indeed, I would be interested to know how many people had a cursory glance at the phone book, didn't know who to call and decided to hand it into a lost and found.

Then there's the issue of phones running out of power. With these things having to keep phoning home I'd imagine the battery wouldn't last more than a day.

Re:Less than half (4, Informative)

PRMan (959735) | more than 2 years ago | (#39333897)

I have found 3 cell phones and have attempted to return them all. On one, the person never returned my calls. I guess they didn't want it back for some reason (it was a throwaway cheap phone). The other two people were extremely happy to get their phone back, and one insisted I take a $50 reward (I settled for $20, since I really didn't want to take anything, but I realized that it made her feel good to give something).

Re:Less than half (1)

tomhath (637240) | more than 2 years ago | (#39333949)

On one, the person never returned my calls.

I hope you weren't calling his cell number...

Re:Less than half (2)

PRMan (959735) | more than 2 years ago | (#39333987)

Nope. I found the entry with the Mobile entry with the same number as the phone (there was no Mom, that's who I usually call), and then called the Home number on that entry. I left messages on the answering machine, but they never responded.

Re:Less than half (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39333961)

I would look for the entry labeled "Do not call her"

Re:Less than half (5, Funny)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 2 years ago | (#39333979)

>> "Mom"... that's the number I call.

Well, that's one dating strategy.

Re:Less than half (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39335361)

>> "Mom"... that's the number I call.

Well, that's one dating strategy.

I don't think my wife would like me having a "dating strategy" :)

Plus I've always found that number in lost phones I've come across.

Re:Less than half (1)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#39334171)

This story was on MSNBC last week (yay Slashdot!), and there they claimed that:

To spice up the test, the phones had an obvious file named "contacts," making it easy for any finder to connect with the phone's rightful owner. ...only 50 percent of finders offered to return the gadgets, even though the owner’s name was listed clearly within the contacts file.

Re:Less than half (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39335047)

That's funny. A file named "contacts"? I hope they mean just a 'contacts' list rather than something you have to go into a file manager to find.

I would absolutely check the contact list, but I would not look around in the phone's file storage. It's not obvious that violating their privacy is more important than (probability of returning the phone if I contact them) minus (probability of the phone reaching them if handed in to Lost and Found).

Re:Less than half (2)

million_monkeys (2480792) | more than 2 years ago | (#39334183)

You're missing the point of the study. They aren't trying to show how often people get their phones back. Although they do report it, it's a secondary result. The real result they are trying to show how is often the data in the phone is accessed, which was nearly always.

That's a greater concern for many businesses and individuals. But as you note, there are flaws in the study. They're spinning it like people immediately start digging through all the data in the phone with the implication that it's malicious. In 25 of the 48 found phones*, they were contacted by the finder. Clearly the finder had to access the phone to get the contact info to find the owner. So the broadly defined "access" may be well intentioned in many (even most) cases.

* BTW: 25 out of 48 is more than half (not less as the summary claims).

Re:Less than half (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 2 years ago | (#39334285)

Not necessarily - some phones let you send a message to the device (from a web UI, etc) if you lose it. There's no need to dig through an address book if there's a "if found, please call xxxx or email xxxx" sitting on the home screen. Anyone with business data on their phone damn well better have a passcode lock on it, and I'd strongly suggest the same for personal-use-only devices too.

Re:Less than half (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39334889)

it depends. This study WAS done by a company that sells security software.

It could also mean your "honesty" studies might need another look. Don't be that guy who makes asserts "rules" of soft sciences like they are "hard" sciences.

Some people are good citizens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39333749)

A group of us were out on Saturday night, and while walking along the seaside (at Redcliffe, QLD, Australia) found a Blackberry on a park bench.
There was no password, no contacts labelled in anything that looked like a home number, and all names had expletives in them.
Rather than try to find who the owner was (battery nearly dead) we dropped it off at the nearest Police station.

Re:Some people are good citizens (4, Funny)

jimmerz28 (1928616) | more than 2 years ago | (#39333793)

If you were truly a "good" citizen you would have dropped the BlackBerry off in the nearest trash can.

Re:Some people are good citizens (5, Interesting)

million_monkeys (2480792) | more than 2 years ago | (#39333947)

A group of us were out on Saturday night, and while walking along the seaside (at Redcliffe, QLD, Australia) found a Blackberry on a park bench. There was no password, no contacts labelled in anything that looked like a home number, and all names had expletives in them. Rather than try to find who the owner was (battery nearly dead) we dropped it off at the nearest Police station.

Random thought: It could have been the business phone of an escort. You wouldn't expect to find a home number. And a lot of times the contacts are used to store the phone numbers of creeps they don't want to hear from again, hence the expletives.

Re:Some people are good citizens (4, Insightful)

Zeroedout (2036220) | more than 2 years ago | (#39334477)

Random thought: It could have been the business phone of an escort. You wouldn't expect to find a home number. And a lot of times the contacts are used to store the phone numbers of creeps they don't want to hear from again, hence the expletives.

That sounds quite plausible. But I'm curious, how did you come about this information?

Re:Some people are good citizens (3)

million_monkeys (2480792) | more than 2 years ago | (#39335307)

That sounds quite plausible. But I'm curious, how did you come about this information?

A friend of a friend is/was an escort and mentioned it offhand one day. I thought it was interesting enough to remember.

Re:Some people are good citizens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39335059)

Sir:
Your random thoughts intrigue me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.
Sincerely,
John J. John

Re:Some people are good citizens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39335383)

There might not be a 'home' number simply because a lot of people don't bother with land-lines anymore.

Commercial? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39333773)

Isn't this just a big ploy by Symantec to now sell you some "phone security" program that will A) not work and B) make your phone really slow?

Re:Commercial? (2)

tomhath (637240) | more than 2 years ago | (#39333937)

Maybe, but I didn't see that in the linked articles. Basically it's just a warning that if you lose your phone it's pretty much guaranteed that the finder will read your email, Facebook, and maybe bank account information if you haven't made any effort to protect it.

Re:Commercial? (2)

linest (157204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39334999)

I'm a little surprised at the number of people who seem to be taking this seriously. I guess that explains why I'm not suited to a career in marketing.

Finding a phone (5, Interesting)

zebadee (551743) | more than 2 years ago | (#39333919)

A couple of months ago whilst visiting Calgary I found a new looking pink Blackberry bold on the street. The phone was fully charged and locked. With a lock it was impossible to contact the owner as I couldn't access the phone to try calling a contact. I just waited and the next day the phone rang. I explained I had found the phone etc and the owner's company sent a courier to pick it up. I was a little disappointed that at no point did anyone thank me for picking up the phone and waiting in for the courier but ah well the phone got back home. The thing is though it made me realise that the only thing the lock on the phone did was prevent me from calling a contact on the phone. If I had wanted to keep it I would have done as a poster above commented and wipe the phone clean. I suppose some phones have sensitive information on them but for the rest of us do we need to lock them if all it does is stop honest people from trying to return them to the rightful owner?

Re:Finding a phone (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39334029)

My stepdad works as a commercial guard on a train, and often finds a phone. Those who phone up and politely say "can I have my phone back" get them.

He's also had asshats who shout at "whoever stole my phone!!1". Those don't make it back. But they do often make into in the bay by one of the stations...

Re:Finding a phone (4, Insightful)

rhook (943951) | more than 2 years ago | (#39334899)

At which point your step-dad really does steal their phone. And to top it off he destroys it. What an asshole, I hope he gets fired.

Re:Finding a phone (2)

okle69 (258936) | more than 2 years ago | (#39334065)

I love how I can have all my contact info (or anything to help get my phone back to me) scrolling across the screen when the lock is active in Ice Cream Sandwich. Best of both worlds.

Re:Finding a phone (3, Informative)

trunicated (1272370) | more than 2 years ago | (#39334165)

This is why my phone's lockscreen has my email address on it. That way, if somebody wants to return my phone, they have a very easy way to do it (assuming they don't just take it to an AT&T store)

Re:Finding a phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39335157)

A customer of mine found an iphone a year and a half ago in her front yard, it was locked. I called ATT and asked if I brought in a phone if they could look up the ESN and get the phone back to the owner. They said no, they would just hold it there and give it to the owner if they called. I said that there were 3 stores in town, how would the owner know to call them. They said they didn't know, but if nobody claimed it they would keep it.

Pretty shitty, also the phone was deactivated the next morning.

Turns out it was someone trying to break into her house that dropped it. LOLOLOL

Re:Finding a phone (3, Interesting)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 2 years ago | (#39334379)

With a lock it was impossible to contact the owner as I couldn't access the phone to try calling a contact.

Just curious - did you pop the battery to look for contact info on the inside of the battery bay?

Re:Finding a phone (1)

zebadee (551743) | more than 2 years ago | (#39334919)

With a lock it was impossible to contact the owner as I couldn't access the phone to try calling a contact.

Just curious - did you pop the battery to look for contact info on the inside of the battery bay?

Yes, but nothing there, I copied down the SIM number and was going to contact the sevice provider to see if they kept a record but they phoned 1st.

Paint it pink (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39334647)

Best anti theft device for a car,

Paint it pink.
Probably also works for phones

Re:Finding a phone (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39334695)

With a lock it was impossible to contact the owner as I couldn't access the phone to try calling a contact.

The owner of the blackberry you found did not use the "owner" feature of the phone, which lets you set what info should be displayed on the home-screen when the phone is locked.

If I had wanted to keep it I would have done as a poster above commented and wipe the phone clean.

Depends on how the phone is reported missing, and how proactive your chosen carrier is about checking.
Both CDMA [wikipedia.org] and GSM [wikipedia.org] phones have unique IDs built into them that can be blacklisted by the carrier as "lost/stolen", preventing activation under a different account.
It's also used by carriers to blacklist subsidized phones on accounts that didn't pay.
Just adding to the reasons not to buy a phone from eBay.

Though, there are tools to get around the ID... but I'm not sure how much faith I'd put in them.

I tried returning a lost phone...once. (5, Interesting)

wytten (163159) | more than 2 years ago | (#39334141)

About 10 years ago I was driving along a gravel road in rural Minnesota and spotted a phone in the road.
During the first few hours I made a point of answering this phone so that I could get the word out that
the owner's phone had been lost. Almost without exception the people who called refused to believe that
I wasn't the owner of the phone playing some trick on them. Then I was accused of stealing the phone
and later of wanting money for its return. Seriously, I was verbally attacked by these morons for simply
trying to arrange a place for its return. Eventually I told one of these people which gas station I was leaving
it at, and simply left it there with a confused cashier. The whole experience was surreal; I felt like I had been
sucked into this person's life. It would make a good movie plot I think. Needless to say when I see an apparently
lost phone now, I just ignore it and walk away.

Re:I tried returning a lost phone...once. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39334335)

The second I was accused of stealing it, I would have spent my own money to mail it to a random post office box number at a randomly-picked city on the other side of the country.

I had a similar experience once (3, Interesting)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 2 years ago | (#39334425)

I was in a cab with a bunch of drunk people about six years ago, when a phone came up out of the seat we were all asked, "Is this your phone?" Turned out that it didn't belong to any of us. I had never found a lost phone before, but I was sober, and I was also pretty sure I could locate its owner, and as I lived in the area code corresponding to the device's number, would have the easiest time returning it. I took the phone home with me.

I called a few entries in the contact list, most notably, "Mom." Got voicemail, left a message explaining what had happened. "Mom" never called back. I ended up chatting with two different women though by going through the recent calls list and calling some numbers. I came out of that ordeal with two different stories---apparently the guy who used the phone was either a player or a womanizer, I'm not really sure which. The problem I had was that I wasn't sure who the right party to return this phone to was, exactly. So I had an idea...

The phone was tattooed with Verizon logos (I sure as hell don't miss those days... that LG UI that got ported to EVERY PHONE THEY SOLD was so fucking awful), so I called 611 with the phone itself. After explaining the situation to a customer service rep, she very regrettably informed me that even though she had the information right in front of her on her screen, she would not tell me the name of the account holder. Go figure. So I wrack my brain trying to think of ideas when I got a pretty good one.

I asked her, "Can you make three way calls?"

"No, but I can put you on hold and make another call," she replied.

"Okay, take down this phone number," and I give her the number of the woman I most suspect that I should return the phone to. "Now put me on hold and call her, and then can you tell me whether or not that person is the owner of this phone?"

"Oh yes!" she says. "Just wait on hold."

Ten minutes later...

"That person IS the owner of this phone. You can return the phone to her and you'll be all set!"

So I call her one more time and gave her my address, and a car pulled up an hour or two later. The funny thing was that the person who came to the door to pick up the phone wasn't actually the woman I spoke with though... it was her boyfriend, the guy who actually used the phone, and also bore a striking resemblance to the fellow that took all those self-shot photos in the camera roll, modestly covering his junk while staring at a mirror.

A more positive ID might have been possible, but camera phones had such atrocious low-light performance back then....

Re:I had a similar experience once (3, Insightful)

rhook (943951) | more than 2 years ago | (#39334931)

so I called 611 with the phone itself. After explaining the situation to a customer service rep, she very regrettably informed me that even though she had the information right in front of her on her screen, she would not tell me the name of the account holder. Go figure.

Not only would she get fired for giving you that information it is also illegal for her to do so. You should have just dropped it off at a Verizon store.

Re:I had a similar experience once (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39335319)

Yep, this is absolutely the case. And for good reason - it's not unthinkable that some girl who's left naked photos on her own phone ends up getting raped because the phone company gave her address to a random guy who found her phone in a bar. Or someone getting blackmailed or robbed. Actually pretty thinkable.

What they SHOULD do though is expect people to be in this situation and have a suitable script: "I can't tell you that, but what you should do is drop it off at a store or mail it to our customer service".

Scare Mongering (4, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | more than 2 years ago | (#39334231)

It is unclear if anyone access data. It appears from the write that people were more interested in personal information(facebook) than corporate espionage.This makes sense as what is the average person going to do with corporate data? Sell to another corporate entity. How many of us has such contacts for espionage? No, we hope to find some embarrassing picture of celebrity that we can sell to the tabloids. So we rifle in facebook and the pictures.

As far as returning the phone, there has to be someway to get data to return the phone.This involves one of two things. First is waiting for the person to call the phone and hope the person who answers is intent on returning it,or going through the address book and calling people so the phone can be returned. The later was how I got my Razr back when I lost it on the Texas A&M campus. So rummaging though the phone, as some people did, can either be considered snooping or data gathering to try to return the phone. Accessing email may be to send an email say the phone was found, or trying to steal email. The motive is ambiguous, though the scare mongering obvious. If I found a lost phone, I would expect a call on it pretty promptly asking for it back. The lack of such a call would mean that something else was going on.

In fact the only thing that is clear is that if you lose a phone, there is at least 50% chance that no effort will be made to return it. From the data It seems about half the finders did what any competent thief would do. Remove the sim card, go to the nearest public computer and wipe the phone. The real race when losing a phone is getting a lock before this happens.

Doing the right thing isn't always easy... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39334247)

Character is what you do when no one will see.

One time, I found a cell phone in a dorm lounge. I was there watching my show and was planning to leave the phone in place in case the owner came looking for it. The phone began to ring incessantly, and eventually I answered in case the owner was calling to search for the phone.

Before I could say more than, "Hello", the owner started chewing me out as a despicable cell phone thief.

I didn't appreciate this sort of mistreatment. What to do? Well, I am not a thief, so naturally I decided to do the right thing.

I took the phone and dropped it down the nearby elevator shaft, then resumed watching my show. This was in 2003, so perhaps the phone has been returned to its irate owner by now. Or perhaps it shattered when it hit the base of the shaft three stories down. Either way, I feel happy I chose the righteous path and ignored any temptation to follow baser instincts.

Found a phone, turned it in to the provider (2)

Rastl (955935) | more than 2 years ago | (#39334451)

Easy peasy. I didn't even bother to look at anything on the phone besides the provider info. Took it to the store, explained that I found it, and handed it over. They would have the 'best' way to get it back to the owner. Keeping it was never an option.

Since it could be identified I treated it like a wallet. It's not finders keepers.

Accessing the information (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39334539)

Getting the phones back was just part of the experiment.

What people would do with the phone is way more interesting:

Eight out of 10 finders tried to access corporate information, including files clearly marked as "HR Salaries," "HR Cases", and other types of corporate information.

Well, dah. Of course people are curious. I'm not surpised around 80% of finders that look at these files. It would be near 100% if there was a folder called "pr0n".

mod Up (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39334635)

co>unterparT,

Teachable moment (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39334717)

A few weeks ago I was passing through the Seattle airport with my family. I found an iPad 2 on the shuttle train between terminals - basically brand new with only the very barest of info on it. We were running behind, so I stuck it in my pack and boarded the plane. Once appropriately airborne, I pulled it out and tracked down the email address of the owner (good thing they use Facebook - I don't). My 4.5 year old son asked me what I was doing and I replied; "We're going to give this back to the people who lost it." Which we did as soon as we got home.

We don't own an iPad and my kids, I'm sure, would love to have one. But teaching my kids to do the right thing - because it's the right thing to do - is far, far more important than a piece of electronica. And if it was my phone, or his Star Wars lunch box - we'd want it back.

Laptop Fishing (1, Interesting)

TibbonZero (571809) | more than 2 years ago | (#39334733)

Recently I had an extra laptop. I had the idea (but didn't execute on it) to go to coffee shops with it, with tracking software installed in the background. I would then leave the laptop frequently while "going to the bathroom". Eventually in theory the laptop would be stolen, I would be able to trace it, track the person down, call the authorities and get it back. One less laptop thief running around (or at least unknown to police) and a fun time. Unfortunately, I didn't follow through on it.

Re:Laptop Fishing (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39335401)

Wow, so your idea of a good time is to set some one up with temptation just to watch them suffer? How very righteous of you...

data is important (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39335029)

I lost my phone a week and a bit ago, didnt have any software to remote wipe it. used to, but i am a rom junky and didnt reinstall it kind of recently. this is annoying information to me. :( replacement phone gets here, will build a custom rom with mobile defense in the system partition, so it'd take a full flashing to remove it, or someone who knows android pretty well. remove root (boo), and encrypt the whole thing, including sdcard. should have been more careful. i dont mind the phone being lost, but the data which might be on it, might be important or sensitive (wang pics :P)

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