Vancouver Least Likely City to Return Lost Smartphones: Symantec


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Symantec Canada purposely ‘lost’ 60 trackable smartphones filled with personal and corporate data across six Canadian cities, part of their widely known experiments from “The Honey Stick Project,” to see which location would return the phones.

The devices had fully charged batteries and ‘dummy’ apps filled with decoy data which were able to track what information was accessed, all sent back to Symantec. Here are the key findings from the 2014 experiment:

  • 93 per cent of lost smartphones were accessed by the finders of the devices
  • 83 per cent of devices were accessed for personal related apps and information
  • 63 per cent of devices were accessed for corporate related apps and information
  • 58 per cent of devices were accessed for both corporate and personal related apps and information
  • 55 per cent of smartphone finders contacted the owner and provided contact

Out of 60 devices lost, which clearly had owner contact information within the contacts app, only 33 offers were received to help return them.

The results concluded Vancouver was the city least likely to return a lost smartphone, as out of 10 ‘lost’ phones, only three attempts were made to locate the owner. Below is a list of the cities ranked least likely to return a lost phone as part of the experiment:

1. Vancouver (3 offered to return phones)

2. Montreal (4 offered to return phones)

3. Halifax (5 offered to return phones)

4. Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa (tie; 7 offered to return phones)

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The conclusion of this experiment? Losing a smartphone is like losing a mini personal computer filled with your sensitive data. Setup a secure passcode and ensure something like Find My Friends is activated so you can have a chance to recover your phone.



  • Michael

    I lost my iphone 4s at Ikea – Coquitlam, 2 weeks ago, it was returned immediately.

  • Chrome262

    wonder if this has anything to do with location of lost phones, in each city. And the financial position of the person finding the phone. For example; if some dude in Starbucks found a phone in downtown Toronto, the chances of that person being better off than say a dude in a country time in Vancouver is high, and more likely be someone who wouldn’t think twice about selling the phone.

  • Chrome262

    my point exactly. I mean its an Ikea, what are the chances of you getting it back it it was in say, a crappy biker bar.

  • Chrome262

    oh and the tag at the end about “are you protected” and the answer is, yes I locke my phone, hell just doing that will save you some issue. Well, that is if you not using and Android that is.

  • Tim

    I agree with Chrome 262. And the number of lost phones in each city isn’t really high enough to be statistically significant. There are also a tonne of other variables that don’t necessarily make the city of loss the determinant. If I lost a phone in the downtown eastside of Vancouver I might expect less of a chance of return than in Kitsilano for instance.

  • ECBomb

    I lost my car keys at IKEA (Coquitlam) once and it was returned. There are still nice people around the city. It’d be interesting to see if the same would happen at the IKEA (Richmond) location though.