IT | Security

Violent Theft of Mobile Devices Up in Canada

By: Absolute Team | 7/6/2013

Metro Vancouver's Transit Police held a symposium on July 3rd to discuss policies and procedures to deal with the theft of mobile devices: cell phones, iPods, iPads, laptops and headphones.

Similar to the Smartphone Summit held on June 13th by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, the symposium set out to address the "theft and robbery of electronic devices [which] has reached epidemic proportions" worldwide, the Lower Mainland not excepted.

Metro Vancouver's Transit Police say there has been a 31% increase in the violent theft of electronics along the SkyTrain line. There have been more than 700 thefts of mobile devices in 2013 alone with an additional 1,600 thefts of bags that included mobile devices. The Vancouver Police also report a 20% increase in violent robberies of electronics in the past year, mirroring similar statistics worldwide. In London, there has been a 53% increase in robberies at gunpoint related to smartphones; in San Francisco, over half of cellphone thefts in 2013 have been violent in nature (punching, kicking, intimidation) and a quarter of mobile thefts included guns or knives.

Transit Police want consumers to be cautious with their phones in public, particularly in high risk locations like the SkyTrain that allow for crimes of the snatch-and-grab nature with a quick getaway. Transit Police share that a common scam is for a thief to borrow a phone to make a local call or ask for the time, which are ploys to get you to reveal your phone or to distract you. Transit Police

Canada's own smartphone blacklist, based on IMEI blocking, is set to come online in September 2013. While this is a commendable effort, there are several reasons why IMEI blocking alone will fail to significantly reduce mobile theft. Knowing this, the Smartphone Summit in the US launched the Secure Our Smartphones (S.O.S.) Initiative to push for a kill switch option in phones. While these efforts will not stop all theft, they are a step in the right direction.

We believe that true mobile theft deterrence includes a comprehensive approach to the problem, from the technical kill switch to education, prevention, arrests, prosecution and device recovery. It's exciting to see the mobile industry tackle the problem of mobile theft. Our partnership with Samsung provides customers with a safe response to device theft, including the potential to recover the device, while also giving law enforcement the means to identify and prosecute criminals. The combination of Absolute's persistence technology and Theft Investigations team supports post-theft investigation to truly protect the public and assist law enforcement in reducing crime.

Sources: Huffington Post, The Province