Sheriff, AT&T Launch Cellphone Theft Awareness Campaign

Updated: 02/25/2014 5:31 PM
Created: 02/25/2014 7:57 AM
By: Megan Stewart

From college campuses to public transportation and everywhere in between, cellphones have become easy prizes for thieves. Apple devices like iPhones are often the target, which is why the term "apple picking" is now commonplace for law enforcement.

In light of the recent spike in cell phone robberies in the Twin Cities, AT&T and the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office joined forces Tuesday to announce a new public awareness campaign.

The Program, called "Protect My Cellphone," was created to educate the public about the increase in mobile phone thefts and provide information on steps people can take to protect their phones and safeguard their personal information.  

“With smartphone robberies rising, the public needs to be aware of this issue and understand that there are simple steps they can take today to protect themselves and deter thefts,” said Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek. “The first step people can take is to be aware of their surroundings and not provide thieves with an opportunity to steal their phone.”

There are free security apps available that protect consumers’ data, including apps that allow a user to lock a phone remotely, track a device, and wipe their phone. Other apps can trigger an alarm when a phone is stolen or take a photo of the thief, which consumers can send to the police.

Information on these apps can be found here.

As part of the campaign, AT&T hold educational workshops around the state with law enforcement to educate consumers on the steps they can take to protect their personal information and to provide demonstrations of the different security apps currently available.

Some of the preventative measures laid out in the “Protect My Cellphone” campaign include:

How to deter theft, protect your smartphone

  • Be Aware of Your Surroundings and Smartphone Behavior. Do not give thieves an opportunity to steal your cell phone by using it while walking or taking public transportation. Protect your smartphone like you would protect your purse or wallet.
  • Lock it.  Add a pin or security password to your smartphone.
  • Change Passwords Often.  Change your online and voicemail passwords every few months.
  • Download and Enable Security Apps. There are numerous free security apps already available that you can download to protect your data. These apps can monitor location, wipe information and locate phones remotely.
  • Back Up Data.  Save any personal data on your smartphone to a backup device.

What to do if your phone is stolen

  • Report it right away. Contact your wireless provider immediately to suspend your service and avoid unauthorized usage charges. Report the theft to your local police department.
  • Locate it and Remote Lock It. Law enforcement doesn’t recommend trying to recover your phone on your own, as your safety should be your first priority.  But if you have a tracking app, activate it from a safe location. Also remote lock your phone so thieves cannot access your personal information.
  • Erase it. Remote wipe your device, especially if you have sensitive info on your phone.
Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek and the President of AT&T of Minnesota announced a new campaign called
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