It can be a scary world out there sometimes, and with the growing population of cell phone users, higher price tags and quick turn over it is no wonder cell phone theft is on the rise. Not just theft out of someones purse or when you leave it on a table. Straight grabbing it from your hand and running down the street theft. Blatant theft that is on the rise in places like Philadelphia. Last yea there were over 400 cell phone thefts reported on Philadelphia’s mass transit, up from 182 in 2008. What can you do to avoid being one of those numbers?

The best thing you can do is pay attention to your surroundings and not just stare at your phone all day long. This is much tougher on people who depend on their phone for business, but here are some tips for you mass transit riders out there.

Location Location Location

When you’re on a bus, train or trolley it’s easy to just take a seat or wrap your hand around a pole and text away. This is a big mistake if you just happen to be near the exit or on the outside aisle sitting down. If you’re in for a long ride, try to snag a seat by the window, even if you don’t like others sitting next to you. Chances are a thief won’t sit next to you, as grabbing your phone and then getting up may be just slow enough for you to catch him or her. Not only that, you now have a human shield between you and the inner aisles.

Standing by the exit with your head down and texting away is just as bad as leaving your purse or backpack open in a crowded room. You’re just inviting theft in your direction.

You’re Holding Your Phone Wrong
This is me grabbing my Razr, smaller phones will be much easier
When I go on mass transit or walk around I tend to grab my phone a specific way. I like to put my thumb on the right side of the phone, my index up top and my last three fingers along the left side. This kind of makes your hand into a claw like shape and makes your phone much more secure and harder to grab. The looser you hold your phone, the easier it is to nab. I know this can be annoying to some because many folks like to use one hand, typically their thumb, when using their phone. But if you’re going to pay attention to your phone for an extended period of time, it may be good to use both hands since you won’t be super mindful of your surroundings.

It’s Break Time

If you’re going for a walk, or just sitting around using your phone for a while, it may be best to stop what you’re doing and look up every few seconds. This will help you avoid running into someone, and keep you mindful of who is around you. You always want to be mindful of your surroundings, and the best advice I can give you in this instance is to just pocket your phone and worry about it later. But if you must, just take short breaks to keep a look out. You never know.

Police are still trying to find the best way to deal with cell phone theft as it is a rising trend that is difficult to stop. Cameras, GPS tracking in your phone, and reporting the ESN of your phone stolen is the best defense against these thieves. By reporting the ESN of your phone, which will be easy to acquire from your cell provider, you effectively make that phone useless, and very difficult to sell as a used cell phone. Carriers like AT&T make ESN blocking more difficult than Verizon, as they use SIM cards. But most carriers will have some system in place for this. GPS location is also not very reliable as not all GPS devices are equal in accuracy, nor will the perp keep the phone on to be tracked so easily. Security cameras on public transit costs money and never garuntees the person will be caught but there have been more installed to at least deter theft.

Just be careful out there! Smart phone use is on the rise, so it’s no surprise that theft of cell phones is also on the rise. I can’t say this enough though, just be mindful of your surroundings and you, and your phone, should be fine.

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