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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

How To Protect iPhones And iPads From ‘Apple Picking’

University campuses, cities and retailers around the world are reporting an uptick in Apple product thefts. (Marko Kudjerski/Flickr)

University campuses, cities and retailers around the world are reporting an uptick in Apple product thefts. (Marko Kudjerski/Flickr)

Apple releases its new iPad today. The fourth generation of the tablet will cost consumers between $799 and $929.

The release comes as university campuses, cities and retailers around the country – and around the world – are dealing with a massive up-tick in thefts of Apple products.

The crime trend has become so pronounced, it’s been given a name: “Apple picking.”

Boston University alone has reported eight muggings in the last five months – the most recent one resulted in a stabbing.

And New York’s Mayor Bloomberg says Apple picking is singly responsible for that city’s recent upswing in serious crimes.

Law enforcement officials caution users to keep the devices tucked away out of public view.

But tech-savvy users say there are important steps to take before a device is lost or stolen – both to facilitate its return and to protect the important data stored inside.

Ars Technica senior Apple editor Jacqui Cheng has this advice:

7 Ways To Protect Your Data

1. Make sure that you’ve set up an iCloud account. If you have iTunes, you probably already have one. All Apple device owners can set one up. To check whether you already have one, go to iCloud stores all your information – it will be there even if your devices are stolen. You can also access your information on all your devices.

2. Turn on the “Find my iPhone” feature on your phone. If your phone is stolen or lost, you can track the location on the iCloud website. You can also use this feature to put a message and a phone number onto your phone if it was lost, so that the finder can contact you. (This is called “Lost Mode.”)

3. Through the “Lost Mode” you can also “lock” your phone once it’s lost or stolen. You do this by adding a passcode (or locking code) if there wasn’t one already on your device.

4. If you know your phone/iPad was stolen, alert police to the general location of the device. Police departments are becoming accustomed to dealing with this.

5. Put a passcode onto your phone as soon as you get it. If you don’t, the thief can wipe your phone clean immediately (by plugging into their computer and restoring factory settings). The passcode won’t stop more sophisticated criminals, but it will prevent many of them from being able to re-sell (making it more likely that you’ll get the phone back).

6. Register your serial number somewhere as soon as you get the device. If it’s stolen you can report it to the carrier, and the carrier will block that device from getting back on the network.

7. If you have data on the device that you’re worried about, you can go to iCloud and do a “remote clean” where you wipe all the data off the device.

Do you have tips to add? Let us know in the comments section.


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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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