Warning of new risk for iPhone users

pickpocketPA DEUTSCHE PRESS-AGENTUR/DPA/Press Association Images

Police have revealed that risks to those carrying iPhones are on the increase. We are increasingly used to hearing about sophisticated criminals using technology to turn our phones against us.

This type of crime is decidedly less high tech, but just as much of a risk.

Cycling muggers

A report in the Guardian has revealed that thieves have taken to two wheels. They use bicycles to catch users off-guard, and snatch the phone in the street. It sounds far too simple to work, but Islington police have seen a 400% increase in the space of a year, and say there were roughly 1,000 phones in the borough snatched this way in 2011.

In most cases the criminals are on bikes, although in some cases the muggers ape their European counterparts, using mopeds as a handy thieving tool.

The dangers

It sounds like it couldn't possibly work, but it happened to me. You'll be surprised how far a criminal can get while your brain is registering that they have just taken your phone out of your hand. You would also be shocked how easy it is to grab your phone, however hard you try to cling to it.

The risks are clearly higher in densely populated areas, and those areas which are more prone to opportunistic mugging. London police in particular say it's a real risk outside any tube station, as muggers know people pull out their phone as soon as they are above-ground.

So how can you protect yourself?

The simple answer is not to get your phone out in busy streets. If you want to make calls in busy places, it's worth investing in a Bluetooth headset, so you can keep your phone in your pocket. If you want to use apps and send texts, you need to be aware of the risks surrounding you, so check how vulnerable you are, and try to retreat to a quiet cafe if possible.

You should keep the phone out of sight, and in a secure pocket or bag. This won't erase the risks entirely, but will reduce them.

It's also worth checking you have some form of insurance cover. Stand-alone mobile phone insurance is rarely the most cost-effective option. However, it's well worth checking that your home insurance covers items of this value out of the home.

You can install tracking apps. However, muggers are often wise to this, so will immediately switch the phone off and remove the sim card, which makes them untraceable.

If your phone is taken, you should inform your provider immediately, so they can block the phone and protect your account. Unfortunately blocks only work in the UK, and handsets are often taken abroad where they can still be sold. However, you will at least be protected.

It's also important to report a theft to the police. It may seem worthless after a cyclist has disappeared into the crowd, but you will need it for any insurance claim.

The sad fact is that if a thief wants your phone, he or she will get it. It therefore pays to have the insurance protection in place, and then to work at making sure you don't come to the attention of the thieves in the first place.
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