The theft of mobile communication devices such as iPhones and iPads has become an increasingly serious problem.  According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), roughly one out of three robberies nationwide have involved the theft of a cell phone.  The FCC estimates that in 2011 over 40% of robberies in New York City and 38% in Washington, D.C. involved cell phones or iPads.

Theft Prevention Measures

  • It was announced in April, 2012, that four of the largest wireless carriers – Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile – are cooperating with the FCC to develop a new database and prevent smartphones reported as stolen from activating voice or data service.  These efforts are intended to serve as a deterrent to potential criminals by reducing the resale value of stolen devices. Within six months (from April, 2012), the four largest wireless carriers are expected to put in place a program to disable smartphones reported as stolen, preventing them from being used on their own networks.  Within 18 month, the FCC plans to help the companies merge their databases to create a national program that also prevents a mobile phone from being altered to use another carrier’s network.
  • Apple has developed a free app (“Find My PC”) that when installed turns an iPhone or iPad into a real-time GPS-based tracker through which users can track lost or misplaced devices.  This app is integrated with Google maps and shows the location of the communications device ( The device location is calculated by using GPS, WiFi, and cell-tower triangulation.
  • There is an app available that sounds a loud audible alarm if an activated, iPhone or iPad is moved.
  • Gadget Track can be installed on smartphones and identifies the device’s location whenever it accesses the Internet.  When tracking occurs, the owner receives an email with detailed information about its current location.
  • Sold by American Theft Prevention (, a STOP Security Plate that permanently marks a communications device can be affixed to a smartphone or iPad.  The STOP Plate marks the devices with a verifiable registration number, clear warnings and indelible identification.