On any given day in Chicago, you can spot at least a dozen people staring at a smartphone in their hand, unaware that someone could simply snatch it away from them.
Even as early as 2011, Chicago law enforcement attributed the rise in thefts on buses and trains to a rise in smartphone thefts, reports the Chicago Tribune.
When your smartphone gets snatched, don't panic. There are several things you can do. For example:
1. Locate a Police Officer.
You probably want to call the police -- but wait, your phone was stolen!
While the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) has policies for lost and found items, it does not have its own dedicated police officers.
If you're in a train or bus terminal, travel up to street level and try to find a police car or police officer, and flag her down.
2. Make a Detailed Police Report.
When you've located an officer, try to tell her as calmly as possible that you had your smartphone stolen, with the following details:
- What kind of phone was stolen (brand, model, color, case, etc.);
- Where you were when the phone was stolen;
- Physical characteristics of the phone thief (height, weight, race, etc.);
- What your thief was wearing;
- Whether the thief pushed or injured you; and
- Where you saw the thief go.
The officer may tell you to make an online report for any stolen property valued at less than $500.
3. Activate Any Smartphone Security Features.
Many phones now have GPS locators, which allows theft victims to track their stolen phones using a computer or even another smartphone.
Recently, a New York woman who had her iPhone stolen was able to enlist a police officer's help to track down the criminal using the "Find My iPhone" app, which can track a phone's location as long as the iPhone remains turned on.
4. Contact Your Mobile Carrier.
After filing a police report, you should also file a report with your mobile service provider (AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, etc.) to let them know that the phone has been stolen and to suspend your service.
Depending on your carrier, you may be eligible to replace your stolen phone with a new one.
5. Credit Card Theft Protection.
Some credit-card companies like American Express will refund a customer for any item stolen up to 90 days after its purchase. So if you recently bought your phone, you may not end up catching your thief, but you may get a new phone or your money back.
- Cell Phone Robbers, Ages 14, 16, & 20, in Custody (Chicago Police Department)
- Drug Addicted Trio Suspected in Over Sixty Suburban Burglaries (FindLaw's Chicago Criminal Law Blog)
- Robbery Abandoned After Victim Points to Police Station (FindLaw's Chicago Criminal Law Blog)
- What Is the Statute of Limitations for Theft? (FindLaw's Blotter)