Apple Picking: fighting the rise in smartphone thefts

Smart phone and ipad thefts are becoming so common, the crime has a nickname: "Apple Picking." Too often the robberies get violent and victims are injured.

Consumer Reports estimate that 1.6 million Americans become victims of cell phone thefts. The little electronic devises are now rivaling drugs and guns as a motivator for crime.

Theives target smartphones and ipads because they often store a wealth of personal information they can tap into. Even if they can't access that information, the devisesvcan be re-programmed and sold on an international black market.

Michelle Bates is not surprised that "apple picking" is on the rise. "It's such an expensive devise, I'm sure people are going to steal it."

One in three thefts in the United States now involve a mobile communication devise. Criminals can easily target their victims who openly advertise they own a smartphone when they're texting or talking in public. John Finn says he takes precautions against criminals. "I'm password protected so if people pick it up, they can't use it. I try not to use it in large areas, big cities where it's more common to get it stolen."

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman calls it a "global problem that demands a global solution." This week, Schneiderman and the mayors and police chiefs of 11 cities in New York, including Syracuse, announced they were joining the international "Secure Our Smartphones" initiative to raise awareness about the crime and improve ways to combat it.

They also are convincing the makers of smartphones to rig them so they can be rendered completely useless remotely if they're stolen. But Bridget Kentch feels if smartphones are smart, so are the people who want to steal them. "They'll find a way around it... they usually do. They're very intuitive people."

Smartphones and ipads have changed the American way of life and have given rise to a new brand of criminal, the Apple Picker.