Take Care, or Your Phone May Be Next

Four months after the debut of Wi-Fi and the new Bring Your Own Device policy, thieves are having a field day stealing iPhones.

 “It is happening too much,” said security chief Vic Ferrell, who took a desperate step out of frustration. “I called Apple to see if there was anything we could do to slow it down.”

Ferrell would not give a precise number of reported thefts, but he said there are “not hundreds, but still too many.” He explained that even if an iPhone is not connected to a phone service, it can still be used to surf the Internet. This is a popular thing to do with stolen iPhones, and the lack of phone service makes them impossible to locate. Ferrell also said thieves sell phones to local stores, some of which do not check too carefully for a phone’s origin.

The iPhone 5 retails for $649.99 but can be purchased for $199.99 with a Verizon contract.

In the September issue of the Shakerite, Assistant Principal Eric Hutchinson said he had high expectations for Shaker students concerning one another’s belongings. He said, “As someone who believes in young people, I am hoping that our student body rises to the challenge by demonstrating respect for one another’s personal property.” The number of thefts so far this year contradicts Hutchinson’s expectations.

Ferrell said that restrooms are the most common place for phone theft because students leave their phones on the sinks. However, it is also the easiest to recover phones stolen there because cameras record everyone who enters and exits. Ferrell said the second most common place is the classroom. If phones are stolen there, it is almost impossible to recover them because there are no cameras. Another common place is the cafeteria. There are also rare reports of phone theft incidents when students are walking home. Usually, someone asks to borrow a phone then takes it and runs.

About 30 percent of phones reported stolen are recovered, according to Ferrell. Chances are greater the sooner the theft is reported. Ferrell said that in a typical day, there can be as many as three to four thefts but sometimes none. Teachers are also among the targets. English teacher Valerie Doersen’s iPhone was stolen out of her bag that she left unattended in class from first through eighth period. “I don’t trust anybody anymore, at all,” said Doersen, who filed a police report and used the Find My iPhone app to track her phone to Menlough Road. She did not, however, attempt to retrieve it.

“I was kind of afraid to do that,” said Doersen, who checked Gamestop for her phone to no avail.

Social studies teacher Amanda Ahrens had her phone stolen off of her desk in Room 108 during one of her classes. “It was my own class, which makes me sad,” she said. Ironically, Ahrens said she had taken a student out in the hall to talk about behavior and that’s when her phone was stolen. The incident left Ahrens phoneless; she does not have a land line. She asked her students in the class about theft, but no one revealed anything.

She was disappointed. “I would do a lot for my students,” said Ahrens, who now feels a “loss of trust.”

The market for stolen phones is also disrupting academics. “When they lose it, their whole day is shot,” Ferrell said of the victims. “It’s such an interference.”


A version of this article appeared in print on 15 January 2013, on page 2 of The Shakerite

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