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Smartphones Driving Violent Crime Across US

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the there's-an-app-for-that dept.

Crime 204

alphadogg writes "Incidents of cellphone theft have been rising for several years and are fast becoming an epidemic. IDG News Service collected data on serious crimes in San Francisco from November to April and recorded 579 thefts of cellphones or tablets, accounting for 41 percent of all serious crime. In just over half the incidents, victims were punched, kicked or otherwise physically intimidated for their phones, and in a quarter of robberies, users were threatened with guns or knives. This isn't just happening in tech-loving San Francisco, either. The picture is similar across the United States. A big reason for such thefts, until recently, is that there had been little to stop someone using a stolen cellphone. Reacting to pressure from law enforcement and regulators, the U.S.'s largest cellphone carriers agreed early last year to establish a database of stolen cellphones."

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204 comments

Ban Smartphones (5, Funny)

dadelbunts (1727498) | about a year ago | (#43695287)

We should enact more stringent controls for cellphone ownership. These cell nuts going around with their smartphones putting us all in danger. What do you need a 30 app mag for realistically. How am i supposed to be safe when any criminal/cell nut can just pull out their cellphone and thats it, bang, im dead.

Re:Ban Smartphones (4, Funny)

ganjadude (952775) | about a year ago | (#43695331)

I mean if we just outlaw cell phones, people will stop getting robbed for their cell phones! violent crime will drop!! Genius!!!

Re:Ban Smartphones (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695377)

When smartphones are outlawed, only outlaws will have smartphones!

Re:Ban Smartphones (1, Redundant)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about a year ago | (#43696013)

I mean if we just outlaw cell phones, people will stop getting robbed for their cell phones! violent crime will drop!! Genius!!!

When they outlaw cell phones, only outlaws will have cell phones.

Re:Ban Smartphones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696477)

well, then we'd be back to the ''good ol' days'' where people got mugged for their cash -- o wait, people don't carry that either.

Re:Ban Smartphones (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695347)

Take the pledge - Just Say No to Smartphones!

Re:Ban Smartphones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695619)

We should enact more stringent controls for cellphone ownership. These cell nuts going around with their smartphones putting us all in danger. What do you need a 30 app mag for realistically. How am i supposed to be safe when any criminal/cell nut can just pull out their cellphone and thats it, bang, im dead.

Look on the bright side, this time Sarah Palin and her drone army will be on your side when they try to take your smartphone away from you.

Re:Ban Smartphones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696251)

But the only person that can stop a bad person with a cellphone is a good person with a cellphone.

Glock .40 + iPhone = dead niggers. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695301)

And this IS what needs to happen, make no mistake.

Re:Glock .40 + iPhone = dead niggers. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695327)

You faggots can mod my post down, but when your teeth
are all over the sidewalk and your girlfriend is forced to
suck nigger cock, you will come around to my point of view.

Re:Glock .40 + iPhone = dead niggers. (-1, Flamebait)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#43695507)

when your teeth are all over the sidewalk and your girlfriend is forced to suck nigger cock, you will come around to my point of view

Does this actually imply that your point of view is level with someone else's crotch? Oh my.

Re:Glock .40 + iPhone = dead niggers. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695727)

Homicides per 100,000 population by race:
- Whites = 0.7
- Hispanics = 27
- Blacks = 52

80% of the homicides attributed to "Whites" were actually committed by "Hispanics" who constitute 8% of our population.

http://www.thebirdman.org/Index/Others/Others-Doc-Blacks/+Doc-Blacks-Crime&HateCrime/BlackVsWhiteCrimeStats-Christianparty.htm

Now shut up you scum.

Re:Glock .40 + iPhone = dead niggers. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695661)

+1

IMEI (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695321)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IMEI

Re:IMEI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695557)

But you assume that the carriers CARE to check this.

Re:IMEI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695571)

Notice that it is only valid for 3GPP protocol phones, while half of USA (or more) runs on CDMA(2k) (used by Verizon and Sprint).

I'll Shoot For That (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695355)

Institute a Federal system for killing smartphone users especially those caught using the smartphone while driving a car or pushing a bag-cart in Safeway. The Fed can give cash awards and Healthcare coverage points for the violent level of the killing.

Serious crime? (-1, Troll)

aaaaaaargh! (1150173) | about a year ago | (#43695363)

Sorry, cell phone theft is not serious crime. Serious crime is genocide, murder, rape, molesting children, kidnapping, torture, etc.

Re:Serious crime? (5, Insightful)

Karl Cocknozzle (514413) | about a year ago | (#43695397)

Sorry, cell phone theft is not serious crime. Serious crime is genocide, murder, rape, molesting children, kidnapping, torture, etc.

Sticking a gun in somebody's face, threatening them with a knife, or beating them are serious crimes. The others you listed are more serious but this isn't some case of some iPhanboi having an emotional breakdown because his iToys were stolen, if you read TFA you'd notice a great mean of these robberies are armed, involve physical violence, or the direct threat of it. Maybe that isn't "serious" where you come from, but if it isn't, you have my sympathies. Let me know if you need me to recommend a good realtor.

Re:Serious crime? (0)

aaaaaaargh! (1150173) | about a year ago | (#43695445)

Okay, I was exaggerating. Armed robbery is certainly a serious crime. I agree with that and was a bit too fast with my post.

However, I've come up with an easy solution: Just rig the cellphones with explosives that can be detonated by sending the right message to it. That way, if somebody walks away with your iPhone, just blow him up.

Re:Serious crime? (1)

FunPika (1551249) | about a year ago | (#43695681)

I can see the unfortunate implications of that now. 1. Get pulled over for going a couple of miles/kilometers over the speed limit. 2. Cop sees smartphone connected to car charger. 3. Under arrest for possession of a destructive device.

Type II Error (was Re:Serious crime?) (1)

dfetter (2035) | about a year ago | (#43695969)

I just love how people who constantly complain about how buggy and unreliable everything is--and justifiably so, by and large--imagine that there's no way to activate a booby trap by mischance or hostility.

Re:Serious crime? (1)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about a year ago | (#43696093)

However, I've come up with an easy solution: Just rig the cellphones with explosives that can be detonated by sending the right message to it. That way, if somebody walks away with your iPhone, just blow him up.

I'm sure Iran, China, radical Muslims, or any number of bat shit crazy groups would love to see this happen. How long do you think it would take for this to get hacked? We should be able to reduce the population of most developed countries to 5 or 10% of what they currently are.

It looks like you have not only solved the cell phone theft problem. But also over population, pollution, green house gas emissions, traffic jams, etc. How efficient of you.

Re:Serious crime? (1)

auric_dude (610172) | about a year ago | (#43696507)

In the UK figures for crime be it property, cell phone or card fraud via http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2013/may/09/mobile-theft-card-fraud-property-crime [guardian.co.uk] are dropping and with not too many guns being used in the commissioning of these crimes you would think that we in the UK have it good but that is not so. It is the general fear of being a victim due to the fact that a good number of people have more than one mobile phone and this volume and value of goods that can be moved on for cash creates a pool of wealth awaiting a sometimes violent harvesting by others. One topic of notes is the different crime figures for mobile (cell) phone crimes when broken down by age and sex. All crime is serious if you or someone in your family is a victim.

Re:Serious crime? (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | about a year ago | (#43695401)

Sorry, cell phone theft is not serious crime. Serious crime is genocide, murder, rape, molesting children, kidnapping, torture, etc.

So I can come over and punch you in the head a few times, and then steal a few TVs? Assault and theft over $500 is serious crime.

Re:Serious crime? (1)

aaaaaaargh! (1150173) | about a year ago | (#43695461)

So I can come over and punch you in the head a few times, and then steal a few TVs?

You could try... but I don't have a TV.

Re:Serious crime? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695529)

Fun fact: The most convincing, profound and well thought rebuttals in all of history typically contain the words "so, I can punch you in the head a few times".

Find a way to sprinkle it into a college thesis, kids!

Re:Serious crime? (1)

Cammi (1956130) | about a year ago | (#43695435)

Getting raped by TSA is a serious crime, but hey, in the USA, some serious crimes are "legal".

Re:Serious crime? (2)

realityimpaired (1668397) | about a year ago | (#43695475)

The loss itself may not be, but if you beat somebody up for their phone it's still a violent crime.

I think the more interesting statistic is that 579 cell phone/tablet thefts accounts for 41% of violent crime. Even if we assume that all 579 thefts were violent in nature, that's still only 1412 violent crimes. In a city the size of San Francisco over that time period, wouldn't the "think of the children" lobby have us believe that the rate is much higher?

Re:Serious crime? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695549)

Cellphone theft (i.e. STEALING) is not a violent crime, but cellphone _ROBBERY_ is.

Robbery is taking stuff right in front of the the owner and might involve violence.
Theft is taking stuff without the owner aware of it.

Re:Serious crime? (1)

SirKron (112214) | about a year ago | (#43695655)

Sorry, cell phone theft is not serious crime. Serious crime is genocide, murder, rape, molesting children, kidnapping, torture, etc.

Serious crime is what the carriers is charging us for data connections and SMS messaging.

Re:Serious crime? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695715)

Ya, but it's the internetz, so it's SRS BIZNISS!!

Typical criminal scum... (1)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43695381)

Steeling the most shiny, but least valuable shit because they just don't understand. They lack knowledge. And if they had it they wouldn't need to resort to steeling it.

I'm not saying this is true in every case, but probably in greater then 70% of them.

Re:Typical criminal scum... (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | about a year ago | (#43695419)

Least valuable? Do you know how much smart phones cost? I mean really cost, not "With 2 year contract." How about looking at the used value on Craigslist, because that is what you can get for 2 minutes work.

Re:Typical criminal scum... (1)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43695493)

I'm talking about their intrinsic value. And once you've stolen one it still needs to be wiped, reconfigured, whatever. Right now it's pretty easy, but its going to increasingly become cost in-efficient. And any good phone I know bricks itself from a server command. Blackberries.

My 10 year old phone still works fine for SMS, email, browsing the web. The latest shiny shit is just shiny shit. That phone may be 100$ on the new market but its going to be like 40$ if that on the black market.

Re:Typical criminal scum... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696045)

$100 [amazon.com] , you say?

Re:Typical criminal scum... (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#43696263)

iphones can be worth 100-200(newest) just in parts besides the motherboard(that is, even if it's wiped and unusable condition).

they're not stealing the phones which are 100 bucks new. they're stealing the phones which are 600-700 bucks new(or phones which they think might be that).

Re:Typical criminal scum... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695495)

"steeling"? Do you suggest that the criminals first steal the phones from their owners and then steel them by encasing them in tough metal?

Re:Typical criminal scum... (1, Redundant)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43695605)

Yes, then they can chome plate them so they can steel chrome google smartphones.

English is stupid. We need to update the language so all meanings and words are symbolic and unique and new configurations are easy to understand and do not replicate previous words without a great deal of memorization.

Anyway, stealing smart phones are not going to give you upwards mobility even in the criminal career path. I bet they are most likely stuck doing that or thats not the only thing they steal. Anyway this just sounds like the new cool thing on the block to do for those permanently indentured to a life of crime. Steal just enough to pay for your low class lifestyle until you get caught.

I would find it amusing if there was a true story about the dumb kid who stole smart phones so hey could later invest in a business or a bus pass out of the slum.

Re:Typical criminal scum... (1, Flamebait)

Majik Sheff (930627) | about a year ago | (#43696147)

Maybe you should dedicate some of your precious time to properly utilizing the language(s) you use.

It's your primary interface when dealing with other humans, and like it or not, you WILL be judged by your ability to use it. You will do well to invest in it, regardless of your distaste for the rules.

Re:Typical criminal scum... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696341)

Remember kids, there is no -1: I'm Offended

Re:Typical criminal scum... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695891)

failing comprehension is 1000x worse than failing spelling.

Re: Typical criminal scum... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695575)

If you have the knowledge, teach them. And people steal for a variety of reason, in the USA its probably for survival (that place is insane), I have no qualms with trying to survive.

Re:Typical criminal scum... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695629)

What do you mean "least valuable shit"? I figure on average I make about $50 for every phone I swipe. Sometimes it's as low as $30 and sometimes around $70 or so. I jailbreak them myself but I dump them on a middleman because I don't need the hassle and I hate sales. On a good day I can make a few hundred dollars for a couple of hours work (and it's kind of a rush too). And I don't have to work every day either. A couple of days a week and I'm good, three decent days and there's my rent for the month. It's easy pickings and I know my market so I'm going to keep getting (and "steeling") while the gettings good.

Re:Typical criminal scum... (1)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43695721)

Lets assume your rent is 300$, and you work enough to earn that rent. Then buy some beer and go out to the movies, and maybe take a girl out, so you work 6 days that month and earn 600$. You are still subsisting.

You then don't factor in the cost when someone either resists and completely destroys you for voilating their person. Or you get caught and end up getting assraped. Sure in some jurisdictions you may spend a night in prison, get a quick trial the next morning and end up out on probation where you can steal some more to pay off the officer or the court for getting caught again.

But you are doing yourself and society no good. And eventually you will have no retirement. I hope you start thinking more about the bigger picture then just the quick "Me".

I can understand wanting a life of excitement and freedom. I really can. But, if your so good at stealing and breaking the phones. Why don't you start up your own phone repair business, or phone hacking service? It doesn't have to be legitimate. You don't have to worry about paying taxes to start. It's better then violently robbing people. You can make more money providing a service then being a nuisance. If you grow it you can higher someone else to do the sales and answer the phone. At some point you could build it into a legitimate store which pays it's dues to the better protection racket then the local thugs.

Maybe that isn't a great option because phones don't need much service done to them or people aren't that interested in free apps and games or whatever. But I hope you get the idea I'm trying to get across.

Re:Typical criminal scum... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695927)

Or you get caught and end up getting assraped.

still pushing the prison-rape myth, eh? does it hppen? sure. does it happen enough that average person should be fearful of it? certainly not. nice fearmongering, though. i guess smoking pot turns you into a psychopath rapist, too?

Re:Typical criminal scum... (3, Informative)

ian_mackereth (889101) | about a year ago | (#43695739)

Thankfully, this AC is smarter than most petty criminals.

I witnessed one iPhone theft, a snatch and run from a bus. The owner set off after the thief but quickly returned to ask the bus driver (me!) to call the cops as the thief had a machete, and the phone owner very sensibly valued his skin more than the phone.

However, instead of just walking into the night before Security and the cops arrived, the thief went to the nearby train station. The security guards there, having been warned by my radio call, promptly apprehended the idiot and he's now doing time for assault with a deadly weapon. Oh, and for theft of an iPhone...

Think about the value of the stuff you carry around with you. If you're a man, maybe a nice watch, maybe some cash in your wallet (but less and less these days) and... your expensive smartphone. A woman might add some jewellery to that list, but probably not much day to day. So what else is a thief going to steal? Especially because there's less point in breaking and entering these days, since the old standbys of VCRs or DVD players are now worth almost nothing, and big-screen TVs are hernia producers!

Re:Typical criminal scum... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696205)

i will shoot you in the face

Re:Typical criminal scum... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695673)

Dude, what do you mean by "least valuable shit"? I figure I make on average about $50 for every phone I swipe. Sometimes it's as low as $30 and sometimes around $70 for the shiny shiny. I jailbreak and reconfigure them myself (dude, I am posting to /. after all) but I leave pass them on to a middleman for the final resale because I don' like dealing with that hassle and sales sucks. I can make a few hundred dollars for a couple of hours of work. And I only have to work for a couple of days a week. A few decent days and there's my rent for the month. Plus, it's a real rush.

Stupid situation (4, Insightful)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about a year ago | (#43695395)

Such a stupid situation that could be solved easily.

If the carriers had a service for the owner to remotely brick and unbrick the phone as well as transfer ownership (with the ability to brick) to another person this would be a non-issue.

It's a service that makes owning the phone more valuable to the end-user; yet, it's an externality to the phone companies. Rather than provide the best possible product and services, they do the barest minimum and reap unjustly high profits. They can do this because they operate out of the normal reach of capitalism - the state-sponsored monopoly. With a stranglehold on public property and the blessings of their government lawmakers, they can do pretty-much whatever they want. Capitalism has failed, therefore we need more government regulation.

That should greatly shorten this discussion. Did I miss any memes?

Re:Stupid situation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695531)

They can do this because they operate out of the normal reach of capitalism - the state-sponsored monopoly.

I don't think a group of companies can have a monopoly.

Re:Stupid situation (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about a year ago | (#43695675)

At the very least when I report that my phone was stolen, then the uniq id in the phone could be traced so if anyone tried to activate it MY phone could be recovered.

Re:Stupid situation (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year ago | (#43695705)

That should greatly shorten this discussion. Did I miss any memes?

Only if you want to count the Drug War, which drives up drug prices and prevents treatment, leaving addicts to turn to petty crime. I think the last estimate was in the low 80% range of home burglaries being drug-addict related. Talk about externalities - all the people who are being robbed and burglarized are paying to this government program.

Capitalism has failed, therefore we need more government regulation.

Oh, right, the goal is more government, so this is working as intended. And the CIA needs to fund its black ops [youtube.com] off-budget. Anybody who still thinks Nixon was a Man of the People...

Re:Stupid situation (4, Informative)

Sulphur (1548251) | about a year ago | (#43696033)

If the carriers had a service for the owner to remotely brick and unbrick the phone as well as transfer ownership (with the ability to brick) to another person this would be a non-issue.

Brick or brick not. There is no unbrick.

--

I live in an unbrick house.

It's worse than you imagine... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696473)

You missed several noteworthy memes. You missed the fact that companies work for profit, not the best interests of their customers. In this case, they sell insurance plans which generate profits for them and the 3rd parties that underwrite the contracts. If you don't have insurance for your phone when you are mugged, you will have to buy one at replacement price, i.e. full retail. If you determine that you don't really want to afford the retail replacement price, you're the hook for their 2 year contractual obligation, and if the customer is the a business the expense is a tax right-off.

Muggers are potentially adding > $2.8M to the national economy by requiring Smartphone users to buy additional equipment alone. Additionally, they are making it possible for people to buy equipment they might not otherwise afford and therefore become cell service customers. Of course there's no telling just how many stolen smart phones are sold back to others who were the victims of theft, so it's hard to say how many additional service contracts are initiated out of similar circumstance.

If you accept even partial validity for these back-o-the-napkin calculations, there's absolutely no incentive for a cynical industry executive to stand in the way of the additional profits by protecting the consumer.

If April was a typical month in San Francisco:

579 'serious' crimes in April / .41 = 1412 'cellphone muggings' (Mugging is violent. And in CA any theft > $400 is Grand Theft. I'd say that qualifies as serious.)

1412 * 12 = 16,946 serious crimes annually (I assume this represents reported crimes entered into some incomplete database, somewhere.)

(16,946) * .41 = 6,948 (Assuming April was an average month and a Smartphone retails at $400, then 7000 * 400 = $2,800,000)

Oh, and you completely missed the fact that neither the FCC nor the so-called Consumer Protection Agency discusses or interests themselves such discussion. They really just don't care.

But what can you do to prevent this? (1)

Dr. Spork (142693) | about a year ago | (#43695413)

Would they add some sort of hard-coded serial number chip that phones home whenever the device is online? I strongly doubt that such a feature would remain uncracked for very long. At best, it might be something that an observant Craigslist buyer could use to distinguish a hacked device from an unhacked one. I think that's the first realistic goal to aim at. I was close to buying an iPod Touch on Craigslist, but backed out because the situation seemed shady, and I didn't know how to verify whether the device was stolen. I know it's tempting to hope that we can use the phone itself to catch thieves and prevent unauthorized transfers, but I don't think we should ever expect to succeed. Every decent phone thief can just power down a phone right after stealing it, and disable the security in a makeshift Faraday cage workshop. All this will do is to provide a perfect spy tool on legitimate phone owners.

Re:But what can you do to prevent this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695503)

Eh? You mean like the IMEI number?

Carriers can easily "ban" a stolen phone from the network. They just choose not to.

There's no real excuse for violence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695443)

There's no real excuse for punching someone or threatening them with violence when taking their smartphone. I find that I've rarely had to resort to threats of violence and rarer still to violence and always it meant that I screwed up somehow. It's just such a simple matter to swipe the thing when they stupidly leave it on the table or sticking out of their bag and they usually don't even notice it right away. If you're in a crowd and you're feeling a bit cocky you can sometimes just grab it out of their hand and then disappear into the crowd. I know, brazen right? But it just works.

Re:There's no real excuse for violence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695509)

But it just works.

It works until you steal MY phone.

After that you will spend the rest of your life in a wheelchair.

Re:There's no real excuse for violence (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | about a year ago | (#43696067)

But it just works.

It works until you steal MY phone.

After that you will spend the rest of your life in a wheelchair.

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for lo I am the meanest SOB in the valley.

(common prison posting)

Re:There's no real excuse for violence (4, Funny)

lxs (131946) | about a year ago | (#43695767)

There's no real excuse for punching someone or threatening them with violence when taking their smartphone.

If they are making a call while the rest of us are trying to watch the movie, I think this treatment should be mandatory.

Blame NIGGERS (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695451)

Blame NIGGERS

Re:Blame NIGGERS (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695521)

and leftist scums allowing nigger animals to be above the law do what they want.

What' the precentage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695525)

Out of the pop. of SF whats the percentage? Really? How serious?

It's GameStop's fault (2)

bloggerhater (2439270) | about a year ago | (#43695553)

Most of these criminals aren't reselling these devices at pawn shops or on Craig's list either. GameStop has made it very easy to take any modern smartphone or tablet into their store fronts for cash. They then take these devices that they got on the cheap and send them out to rural communities and sell them for just a shade under retail. GameStop's uncaring jerk wad management strikes again.

Isn't this common to all new tech? (2)

frdmfghtr (603968) | about a year ago | (#43695633)

When airplanes started to become more common, the number of crashes took off (no pun intended) simply because there were airplanes to crash.

The annual theft rate for automobiles was a perfect zero...until of course the automobile was invented.

It seems to me that accidents, crimes involving a particular technology, popular fashion item, etc. are naturally going to become a more significant portion of overall crime as they become popular. It reminds me of the sudden uptick in sneaker thefts when Air Jordans became popular.

Re:Isn't this common to all new tech? (1)

misexistentialist (1537887) | about a year ago | (#43695803)

More common, but also expensive. Thieves didn't attack people for their Livestrong bracelets or Crocs. Smart Phones and Air Jordans are high-value items to carry around

Naivete, Stupidity, Etc. (2, Insightful)

jazman_777 (44742) | about a year ago | (#43695671)

It's obvious that people feel that they don't need to be alert to their surroundings. That is madness. This crime wave is basically the result of people making themselves easy targets. I know our world may shriek "blaming the victim", but you really ought to be on guard, it's your responsibility, it's your stuff, it's your life.

Re:Naivete, Stupidity, Etc. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696301)

It's obvious that people feel that they don't need to be alert to their surroundings. That is madness. This crime wave is basically the result of people making themselves easy targets. I know our world may shriek "blaming the victim", but you really ought to be on guard, it's your responsibility, it's your stuff, it's your life.

So, if you approach the "crime wave" from an existential perspective, it's like Plato's Allegory of the Cave. The Smart® phone user, head down in his world of the tiny screen, is dragged kicking and screaming, by the thief, from the illusory world of social networking, largely inane news feeds (present company excepted of course) and streaming media. The Smart® user, unused to seeing things as they really are, is surprised by the true nature of the world around him and turns to run for the safety of the gray middle of the cave, his old familiar surroundings where he exists anxiously viewing the shadows cast by those outside. Smart® users prefer the world of shadow to the world of light. They are at the mercy of reality and cry out against those who would snatch their illusions from them.

What phone would Plato have chosen...
What service plan would Jesus have signed?

Re:Naivete, Stupidity, Etc. (0)

Milharis (2523940) | about a year ago | (#43696373)

I'm not from the US, but it works the same everywhere.
Most of the time, it's not someone who steal your phone and run, it's 2 or 3 guys with knives waiting in an alley near a building lot.
When they see someone alone, they threaten/beat him, and take everything, including the smartphone which is often the most valuable thing.

It's common here to have two phones, a shitty dumbphone with a prepaid card as a bait, and a smartphone hidden somewhere safe.

My first thought (1)

korbulon (2792438) | about a year ago | (#43695723)

Was that driving while using a smartphone would soon be considered a violent crime across the U.S. Which, honestly, wouldn't be such a bad idea.

In the 70's (3, Insightful)

michaelmalak (91262) | about a year ago | (#43695763)

As I write whenever the topic of smartphone muggings come up:

In the 70's, people were held up for their watch and cash (remember cash?). Different decade, different stuff.

Re:In the 70's (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695983)

Why the arbitrary nod to the 70s? This has been going on since Day 1. Grok made the wheel, and Ug jacked him for it. It's an intrinsic part of human nature. Sure, most of us have it washed out or subdued via conditioning, but left unchecked, it always rears in ugly head.

Re:In the 70's (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696325)

As I write whenever the topic of smartphone muggings come up:

Say what? Someone mugged a phone? What has the world come to... I think someone's evading the nature of reality here.

Stealing cellphones at gunpoint is some crazy shit (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695781)

I usually just wait till you put it down at your table, or stick it in a back pocket or pocket of your backpack or purse. No way I'm carrying a weapon, I don't need the extra time if I get caught (and I've never been caught). If some dude grabs my arm I just punch him in the face or kick him in the nads, sometimes I'll even throw the phone down on the ground but that's only happened to me twice. Carrying guns to rip smartphones is for losers. (I guess smartphones need smart thieves, like me ;-)

Re:Stealing cellphones at gunpoint is some crazy s (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696189)

Your methods sound plausible, but if you're really so smart, why not just get a job where you get reliable money and cause less distress to innocent people and less danger to yourself? The theft itself is not the only risky part of the operation. How do you know that your buyers won't turn you in for a lighter sentence?

Re:Stealing cellphones at gunpoint is some crazy s (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696231)

Your methods sound plausible, but if you're really so smart, why not just get a job where you get reliable money and cause less distress to innocent people and less danger to yourself? The theft itself is not the only risky part of the operation. How do you know that your buyers won't turn you in for a lighter sentence?

lighter sentence for having bought a stolen phone? huh? one of the reasons this type of crime is popular is that the cops don't care at all about phone thefts. they don't investigate them. If they did, they would with simple effort have caught everyone who stole more than 5 phones in their career and most first timers as well.

Re:Stealing cellphones at gunpoint is some crazy s (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696393)

No, he has a point actually. I don't resell them direct (though I do jailbreak and reconfigure as necessary, hey, I'm posting here ain't I?) because I hate to deal with the public and sales sucks. I have a couple of middlemen I deal with that saves me the hassle and one of those guys could burn me a lot more than any random one time buyer. The idea certainly gives me pause but hey, the money's good now. OTOH, when I'm done with this degree and in all likelihood move away from this target rich urban environment when I get a decent job it'll be behind me and hopefully that won't happen.

iPhone 5's are just too valuable right now (1)

beltsbear (2489652) | about a year ago | (#43695883)

Even a properly blacklisted iPhone 5 is worth well over $200 for parts or for export into an area where blacklisting does not apply. To slow this type of violent crime the police and courts need to treat it more seriously. It is easy to spot an iPhone 5 and you would be hard pressed to find quickly an easier way to steal $200. Few used car radios or even flatscreen TVs are worth that on the hot market.

People who violently steal a cellphone should be put in jail the FIRST TIME for at least a year maybe more. In Maryland that is certainly not the case now. If you do not use a gun in the crime you probably won't go to jail even when caught with good evidence. The police also loath to investigate where a stolen phone is from GPS tracking information. They should do this at least in some conditions such as a well documented theft.

Hilarious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696009)

Shouldn't the article title be "BLACKS driving violent crime across U.S."???

Or did they miss that part of the police reports?

Cops should be able to retrieve phones (1)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about a year ago | (#43696025)

With the proper inexpensive tracking tools, police could track down cell phones that have been stolen. This would lead them to people who probably have committed more than one crime as well.

Re:Cops should be able to retrieve phones (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#43696225)

With the proper inexpensive tracking tools, police could track down cell phones that have been stolen. This would lead them to people who probably have committed more than one crime as well.

With the proper inexpensive tracking tools police could track down .... well, anybody.

Careful what you ask for.

just round up all the black people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696111)

problem solved

So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696163)

Don't go around with your smartphone glued to your ear all day. Don't advertise that you have a smartphone. Don't use it in areas where you are alone or in high crime areas. Don't wear it in a holster on your belt, keep it hidden when not in use. If iJunk is what is stolen most, avoid it like the plague that it is! Get a better and less expensive Android phone.

Better yet, get a "dumb" phone that only makes calls and does texts. NO ONE "needs" a smartphone! You may want one, like having one, but it is not necessary.

As for tablets, avoid the vastly overpriced iCrap, and get something better and less expensive. Same as with a smartphone, be carefill where you use a tablet, and how you carry it. If they don't know you have it, they won't try to steal it.

Duh! (1)

excelsior_gr (969383) | about a year ago | (#43696177)

Well, duh!

It is a device that costs $200 upwards, small and a lot of people are carrying. The amount of cash one holds is usually meager and credit/debit cards are worthless because they can be rendered useless with one phone-call (someone pointed out above that it would be a good idea to have that bricking option for phones too). Expensive watches would be a good alternative for theft, but youngsters don't wear them, since they have a smartphone to tell the time with. The smartphone is the new Rolex.

Re:Duh! (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#43696241)

some smartphones are worth some cash even if blacklisted/banned.
the screen etc are still usable from it.

Took them long `nuff. (1)

houbou (1097327) | about a year ago | (#43696361)

What took them so long for this database anyways? sheesh. It's not so much a serious crime as it is a crime. Smartphones nowadays can be used to manage your life with all the information you can set into it. Of course, for some, it's a great delivery system for Angry Birds and Temple Run... nevertheless, there should have been a DB a long time ago.

Wrong - poverty drives violent crime (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696421)

The primary cause of most cell-phone (and other) thefts (violent or otherwise) is that in the US lots of people have to worry about where their next meal is coming from.
And some people simply cannot get a job to fix that. A combination of lack of skills or acuity, neutral traits that companies discriminate against, and general lack of work make it really difficult for some people to find a job. Almost nobody considers themselves a criminal - even criminals generally don't think of themselves as bad. But you have to eat. (Or fuel your drug addiction, another area which the US is handling spectacularly badly.)
Disclaimer: I'm saying this as a highly skilled programmer who somehow isn't able to find a job. Employers always say in interview feedback that I come across as skilled and intelligent, but there's always someone else or an excuse not to hire me. I'm a good and moral person, but if I had been in the same situation in the US I wouldn't have the government benefits that I have now. You can beg, but Americans aren't known for their generosity, at least not among US beggars. So a life crime it would be. After all, you've got to fill your stomach and necessity justifies everything. Think about it. The lady you just shot to get her wallet is part of a society that doesn't provide universal unemployment benefits. All Americans are partly guilty for most US muggings.

Authentication (0)

Mike Frett (2811077) | about a year ago | (#43696463)

Apologies if I overlooked a Comment. With that said, I'm surprised nobody has brought up Cell thefts and Password Authentications. With Phone theft on the rise, It's logical that Authentication via Cell Phone isn't as secure as it's made out to me. Heck, Google is damn near forcing people to add a #, hows me? I don't even own a Phone so how the heck am I suppose to access GMail.

If they want me to add a Cell, then maybe they need to buy and keep up the payments on a Phone for me. I seriously dislike being forced to do things I feel are not in my best interest, both financially and mentally. Forcing, isn't that what Slavery was about?.

Smartphones AREN'T driving violent crime (1)

Thrill Science (2845693) | about a year ago | (#43696505)

Smartphones AREN'T driving violent crime. CRIMINALS are. Unfortunately, the voters of CALIFORNIA LOVE CRIMINALS.
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