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The Bottom Line
 
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The Bottom Line: Apple Picking

Updated: Friday, August 2 2013, 09:18 PM EDT
ALBANY -- Many of us are guilty of it nowadays:  Innocently using our smartphones in a public place.
But more and more, that innocent use is costing us.
Police
have dubbed the growing trend of smartphone theft as "Apple-picking" - a
trend that is happening here in the Capital Region.
CBS 6's Dori
Marlin found out the hard way, when her iPhone was stolen right out of
her hands in Albany - and now she's making it her missing to get The
Bottom Line, to protect you, your phone and your wallet.
Police in Albany tell her, more than 200 smartphones have been reported stolen in the city since January 1st of this year.
"We've
had the simple larcenies, where the cell phone has been ripped out of
somebody's hand - we've also had robberies, where it's been forcible
theft," says Albany Police Spokesman Steve Smith.
In Dori's case, she
had just finished dinner outside at a table along a sidewalk.  She was
texting a friend at the time, when a guy on a bike whizzed by on the
sidewalk - and literally plucked the phone out of her hands, while she
was texting.  By the time she realized what had happened, he was already
gone.
Some other common ways the bad guys do it?
"These suspects
have walked up to the victims and asked, 'May I use your cell phone? I
need to call my mom.'  Or 'I'm lost, can I use your GPS capabilities?'" 
Smith tells Dori.
Victims have also handed over their phones, for someone to take a picture - but the suspect then takes off, with phone in hand.
So what about finding the phone:  Is it possible, once it's gone?
A
good number of smartphones do have GPS tracking now, to help find them
and wipe them clean - but the smart thieves know that, as well.
The
phone stolen from Dori?  Already had its GPS turned off, by the time
police tried tracking it 10 minutes later - meaning her information
couldn’t be wiped from it, and chances are good she'll never see that
phone again.
"There's two businesses for the thief:  There's the
identity theft business, and what they want to do is get your
information off if they can," says Liberteks owner, Larry Zimbler.  "And
then they will re-sell the phone for the second business."
Dori checked out Craigslist in Albany, just to see what the going rate was.
An iPhone 5 like hers - was listed for as much as $600.
And because she didn't have insurance on the phone, that's about how much it would cost her to replace her stolen phone.
"It's
just the way we communicate nowadays, but we really do need to be more
aware of our surroundings and more cognizant," warns Smith.
He adds
that it’s a good idea to download a free app – like “Find My iPhone” or
“Find My Droid” – to have the ability to try to track your phone.
Even
though it’s an extra step for use, make sure your phone is passcode
protected.  If a stolen phone does not have a passcode lock, it means
the bad guy could have unlimited access to everything on there.
And
if that happens, you need to change all of your passwords to all
accounts you have on the phone immediately – that way, you can keep the
bad guy from getting in.
For more on how to protect yourself if you do fall victim, click here.The Bottom Line: Apple Picking


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