Do your part to prevent mobile device theft

Your laptop and smartphone are filled with personal data such as photos, banking information and passwords. If these devices fall into the wrong hands, the results can be more damaging than you think.

Larceny is the biggest crime everywhere, and Wayne State University is no exception. While the WSU Police Department has done phenomenal work cutting down these types of crimes — down from over 600 to about 200 per year in roughly 15 years — they are still very real. The best thing you can do to protect yourself from this type of attack is examine your own behavior.

“Do not inadvertently create a situation [that makes you a target],” said Lieutenant Dave Scott of the Wayne State University Police Department. “Look at your routine from the point of view of a criminal.”

Smartphones are one of the most common targets of theft. Thieves act quickly to get these desirable items and are known to snatch them right out of your hands while you’re using them — an act you may have heard WSU police refer to as “Apple Picking.” What can you do to keep yourself and your possessions safe?

It’s OK to have your phone out, but don’t be distracted by it. When walking around campus, try your best to keep your personal belongings tucked away and be aware of your surroundings. Ask yourself: Am I familiar with the area? Is there anyone behind me? Am I in a populated space?

Do not leave personal belongings in sight or walk away from them. This is true for both students and employees. If you’re studying on campus, take your belongings with you when you get up. Similarly, employees should lock away personal belongings in their desks or offices.

Your car is a public place, too — “Locked doors and rolled up windows only slow down criminals,” Lt. Scott said. If a thief sees something they want, “they will have no issue breaking your window to get it.”

If your device is stolen, remain calm and do not put yourself in danger by pursuing the thief. Without a phone, you cannot call the police. But if you draw attention to yourself — “HELP! That person stole my phone!” — a passerby can alert the police. If you are targeted because you are alone and there are no other people nearby, find the nearest building or blue light phone and call WSUPD immediately. Try to offer as much information as you can about the incident as well as the suspect.

Other ways to avoid device theft:

  • Customize or differentiate your belonnings so they're easy to spot.
  • Always delete any sensitive information ASAP.
  • Resist using autofill features.
  • Back up your information regularly.
  • If you must keep sensitive information on your device, encrypt it.
  • Write down the serial number and keep it filed in a safe place.
  • Install tracking and recovery software.
  • Always use a passcode when possible to lock your device.

In an emergency, contact the WSU Police Department at 313-577-2222. For more information and other non-emergencies, contact WSUPD at 313-577-6057.

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