Caught Stealing an iPhone in Florida?
iPhones are a hot commodity in the United States today, drawing hundreds out to literally camp outside for the release days in advance or pay hundreds above face value online on websites like eBay. This is exactly the reason they’ve become the primary target for thieves in bars and clubs where iPhone carriers are less likely to notice their desirable smartphones have been swiped. Because the iPhone is an Apple product, the crime trend has been sardonically named “Apple-Picking.”
The Umansky Law Firm is among the law firms in central Florida defending individuals accused of criminal charges such as theft, working with individuals that have stolen anything from small electronics to vehicles. Depending on the version of the iPhone, an individual caught stealing an iPhone will be charged with theft if it’s retail value is worth less than $750 and grand theft if it is more than $750, which drastically increases the potential fines, penalties, and jail time associated with the crime. Multiple offenses of theft further augment the penalties.
The crime trend of Apple-Picking has begun to pick up in Orlando, Florida, according to the Orlando Sentinel article on August 19th, 2013. Not only are they eventually being sold, but they are also being used to make expensive foreign calls. In the United States,113 smartphones are stolen or lost every minute, according to New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s “Secure our Smartphones” initiative. That means an underground market for illegally obtained smartphones is expanding. Police are attempting to use social media to assist in finding smartphone thieves in town, as well as spreading awareness to residents along the lines of “if you see something, say something.”
William Umansky, founder of The Umansky Law Firm, also considers the additional potential charges associated with stealing an iPhone — though concerns have been typically centered around thieves selling smartphones to secondary markets and making long distance calls, he acknowledges that some of these Apple-Pickers have far more nefarious intentions.
To explain, Attorney William Umansky said, “These days, smart phones are a highly desirable theft item to steal given the vast amount of information stored on them. Information regarding your bank account and credit cards are at someone’s fingertips once they get a hold of your phone. While you should always be diligent to protect your belongings, guarding your smartphone is of particular importance given the potential damage a criminal can do once they have it.”
Apple-pickers that are caught have been facing charges such as petty theft, grand theft, and conspiracy to commit grand theft. Sometimes they’re working in pairs, where one individual will do the “picking” while the other holds onto all of the items.
Police have many suggestions for keeping your iPhone or other smartphone safe while you’re out, such as solid password protection, finding a reputable security app for your phone, and backing up any important information to your computer or another device.