Cell phone theft is on the rise, but the industry isn't helping much (Infographic)

Fans get hands on with the Samsung Galaxy S4 at the Samsung Experience Shop Best Buy Official Launch Event at Cunard Hall on April 25, 2013 in New York City.

Think about what happens when your phone is stolen. You have to go out and buy a new one, then you have to sign up for a new plan with your carrier.

With cell phone theft generating new sales for manufacturers, and new contracts for carriers, why would they do anything to stop it? 

Kevin Mahaffey is with the mobile security firm Lookout. He says there is one incentive: Keeping customers.

“The manufacturers and the operators care very deeply about trying to improve people’s experiences," Mahaffey explains.  "Because they’ve found that making people happier is profitable.”

Mahaffey says the industry has created a new database to track stolen phones, but it doesn’t work outside the U.S., and many of the stolen phones end up in other countries.

George Gascon, district attorney of San Francisco, takes this approach when he’s taken in meetings with cell phone makers and carriers, and he asks them to fight cell phone theft.

“For the people in the industry to step up and do the right thing without necessarily being dragged into court or being legislatively forced to do this,” Gascon says.

Gascon says it’s up to the industry to decide which way to go.


What can you do to prevent your cell phone from being stolen? Check out our infographic of cell phone theft stats and prevention tips.

About the author

Nancy Marshall-Genzer is a senior reporter for Marketplace based in Washington, D.C. covering daily news.

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