Parisians Told to Hold IPhones Tight After Thefts on Subways
Carrying an Apple Inc. iPhone in the Paris Metro can be risky business.
A spate of smartphone thefts on public transport, including one that resulted in the death of a 27-year-old woman, has prompted the French capital’s police to blame what they call the “iPhone effect.”
RATP, the operator of Paris’s Metro, bus, and tram lines, has begun handing out fliers in four languages telling travelers that their mobile phone is “so valuable that others would like to get their hands on it too.” Police data from November, the most recent available, showed 53 percent of 1,071 violent thefts on Paris public transport involved smartphones.
French consumers are among the world’s most prolific iPhone users. France Telecom SA, the largest French phone company, is the world’s second-largest seller of the device, after the U.S.’s AT&T Inc. The Paris-based company alone has sold more than two million of the devices in the country.
Thefts of the last two models of iPhones accounted for almost 28 percent of items stolen on public transport, the Paris police said.
Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux has called for police to implement identity checks on the Metro. He’s also seeking faster efforts to allow smartphone owners to “block” stolen phones, disabling calling functions to make them worthless in the resale market as a deterrent to theft.
“It will be naturally much less attractive” to steal a phone that can be de-activated remotely, Hortefeux said on Dec. 31 in a video posted on the ministry’s website. “We have the technical means to deter thieves.”
On Dec. 27, a smartphone theft ended tragically when, according to police, a thief fleeing with a stolen smartphone pushed 27-year-old Vy-Anh Nguyen down a staircase at Etienne- Marcel station in central Paris, causing fatal head injuries.
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