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Thieves swipe over 1 million smartphones in the US each year

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If you suspected that smartphone theft was becoming an epidemic in the US... well, you're right. The FCC has published findings which show that Americans report well over 1 million smartphone thefts to the police each year. That's not as high as unofficial estimates (Consumer Reports pegged 2013 thefts at 3.1 million), but it still means that "at least" a tenth of all known robberies in the US involve a phone. Also, that figure may be conservative -- many people don't report stolen phones in the first place.

As bad as that sounds, there are hints that things are getting better. The voluntary addition of remote kill switches has reduced theft rates in some cases, and state laws requiring those switches are likely to improve the situation further. According to the FCC, the biggest challenge is convincing foreign carriers to block stolen American phones. If they do that, there's less of an incentive to swipe your phone and put it on the international black market. Muggings and break-ins won't stop even if the regulator gets its way, but the hope is that thieves will at least think twice before they grab the device in your hands.

[Image credit: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images]

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