A worrisome trend is starting to take shape in picturesque Vancouver.
Between 2012 and 2014, the number of smartphones stolen in a year declined from 215 to 131 — thanks in part to the introduction of the international stolen phone database.
In 2015, however, there was a spike in the number of stolen devices, a trend that has continued in to the first four months of 2016. In just the period of between January and March, Vancouver Police have had to investigate 40 smartphone robberies, a 30 percent increase from the same period last year.
“We’re seeing a rise,” said Constable Brian Montague in an interview with CTV Vancouver.
So far, many of the victims have been law-abiding Vancouverites who were simply trying to resell their old handset. To make matters worse, several cases have involved assault as well. According to the Vancouver Police, some assailants have gone so far as to pepper spray their targets and even hold them up at gunpoint.
“Once the suspects get a clean eyeshot of the phone, recognize it’s present, they just spray the victim, take the phone and they’re on their way,” said Ian MacDonald, one of the police officers investigating the robberies.
The police department is advising anyone that gets their phone stolen to report the robbery to their carrier, which can add the device’s IMEI to the international stolen phone database, making it inoperable.
Another alternative, particularly for anyone that wants to resell their iPhone, is to use a service like Orchard. Unlike Craigslist’s, Orchard, a Toronto-based startup, handles the physical aspect of selling the phone, ensuring the original owner is not put in harm’s way.