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iPhone thefts soar -- here's how to beat the bad guys

NEED TO KNOW
  • One in 7 crimes in New York City involve an Apple product
  • People report phones snatched right out of their hand
  • Apple and Android apps can secure and track your phone
iPhone 5 popular among buyers and criminals.

Of all the amazing, wizbang features Apple has packaged in its shiny shiny new iPhone 5, the most useful may be one of the most humble: its internal location tracker.

Accompanying the new iPhone release has been a wave of new iPhone thefts. In New York, the NYPD even set up booths near Apple stores on the day of the phone's release to encourage buyers to activate that tracking technology and also to register their phones in case they were ever stolen. The department says about 1,500 people took them up on the offer.

That's probably a pretty smart move considering the NYPD also just announced that one in every seven crimes in the city involves theft of an Apple product. The hard numbers: 79,000 crimes have been reported to the NYPD this year and more than 11,400 of them included a swiped iPad, iPhone, or other Apple device.

Of course, you don't have to live in New York to be on the wrong end of a criminal's gadget envy. People around the country report their smartphones being snatched right off tables, desks -- or even straight out of their hand mid-conversation.

So back to that location tracker for a second.

Apple also offers a free app called Find My iPhone, which works in tandem with that feature to secure and locate your phone if it's stolen. (Androids offer a similar feature, as well as this app which snaps a pic of the person who has your phone) If you have an iPhone, go into the Settings menu, then to iCloud and click on the Find My iPhone icon.

Follow the installation steps, which tether your phone to the Cloud, and get on with your day.

If you do end up losing your phone, you can switch on Lost Mode which locks it down remotely and lets you post a message on the phone's display which can be used to post contact information for whoever finds it.

Follow Jonathan on Twitter @JonFromHLN

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