Smartphones are so common now that it's easy to forget criminals will steal them if you give them the opportunity.
Apple device thefts in New York have gotten so bad that the New York Police Department created a team dedicated to recovering stolen iDevices, the New York Post reported today.
The team works with Apple to obtain ID numbers -- known as International Mobile Station Equipment Identity numbers -- for devices to help track down the stolen goods.
The number of thefts of such devices in the city soared last year, according to a report from the NYPD. The department found that iPhone and iPad thefts rose 40 percent during a period of eight months. As of September, 11,447 cases were reported.
These numbers for "Apple picking" will continue to rise as smartphones and tablets become ubiquitous for most day-to-day activities. Using apps on phones and tablets to check for news updates, weather reports, and so on, are common for bustling metropolises like New York and elsewhere.
A Wall Street Journal reporter chronicled his own experience with an iPad theft on the subway that left him with a broken jaw. In tech-savvy San Francisco one iPhone theft led to a police foot chase and shots fired.
Consumers should take the proper precautions in case they lose their phones to the black market, where phones can fetch hundreds of dollars. Securing your phone with a good passcode and signing up for services like Apple's Find My iPhone service could offer piece of mind.
Thieves like to target those who are preoccupied with their phones, opting to grab the devices from owners' hands and then bolt. If you do end up a victim, police say it's best not to try to stop the criminals. Here is the NYPD's public announcement alerting people to some common iDevice theft situations: