RCMP Warn of Brazen iPhone Robberies in the Metro Vancouver Area

The RCMP in the Lower Mainland are warning iPhone users to be careful after a surge of brazen thefts in the Metro Vancouver area.

A report by Global News recounts warnings from the Coquitlam RCMP as thieves have become more aggressive towards Apple users and their iPhones. Victims usually are asked by thieves for the time, only to have a weapon pulled on them once the iPhone is revealed.

Recent cases had thieves demand victims reveal their passcodes and format their phones on the spot, with four attacks happening in the Coquitlam and Port Moody area in the past three weeks.

“It is becoming a concern for us,” says Cpl. Jamie Chung with Coquitlam RCMP. “You would not be carrying several hundreds dollars in your hand walking down the back alley. For the same reason  you should not be carrying your iPhone walking down a back alley. You should only pull out your iPhone when you are safe.”

The RCMP suggest users make note of their iPhone’s IMEI, so they can report it to the National Stolen Cellphone Blacklist program, which went live last September.

Your IMEI can be accessed in the following ways: 

  • It’s located on the box of your iPhone, on the back sticker that details the model number; NOTE: if you get a replacement iPhone via warranty, the IMEI changes so it won’t be the same anymore.
  • Your wireless carrier has your IMEI on file
  • On the iPhone, dial *#06# and your IMEI will appear; alternatively go to Settings > General > About > scroll to the bottom and you’ll see your IMEI.

Tips to protect your iPhone:

  • Setup a strong passcode; enable ‘Erase Phone’ after 10 failed passcode attempts
  • Enable Find my iPhone and Find my Friends
  • Setup Parental Restrictions so Find my Friends cannot be turned off.
  • Install iOS 7 to benefit from the security feature Activation Lock
  • Carry a BlackBerry to reveal if someone asks for the time (or wear a watch)
  • Beware of your surroundings (i.e. don’t walk and text as you’re a target)

If your iPhone is stolen, call your carrier to let them know so they can enter your IMEI into the stolen cellphone database program.

iOS device theft is a lucrative market for thieves as iPhones can be sold quickly for cash on Craigslist and other used classifieds. A recent report cited how iDevice theft in New York City accounted for 18% of grand larcenies.

What are your tips to secure your iPhone in public?

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