Crime Trend on Campus: Beware of "Apple-picking"

A new crime called "Apple-picking" targets users of iPhones and other smartphones as they walk and talk in cities and on college campuses around the country, including the Montgomery area.

AUM Police say college campuses are a target-rich environment because many students have smartphones. Officials met with officials at other local campuses that are investigating similar cases, and they are sharing information they hope will lead them to the suspect or suspects.

Recently, AUM experienced at least three reported thefts of smartphones. In these cases, no physical force or confrontation was involved. Instead, the suspect(s) approached the complainant(s) and offered an excuse to borrow the smartphone.

In order to protect yourself from identity theft and misuse of your personal information, AUM Police offer the following suggestions:

7 Ways to Protect Your Data

  1. Make sure that you’ve set up an iCloud account. If you have iTunes, you probably already have one. All Apple device owners can set one up. To check whether you already have one, go to iCloud stores all your information – it will be there even if your devices are stolen. You can also access your information on all your devices.
  2. Turn on the "Find my iPhone" feature on your phone. If your phone is stolen or lost, you can track the location on the iCloud website. You can also use this feature to put a message and a phone number onto your phone if it was lost, so that the finder can contact you. (This is called "Lost Mode.")
  3. Through the "Lost Mode," you can also "lock" your phone once it’s lost or stolen. You do this by adding a pass code (or locking code) if there wasn’t one already on your device.
  4. If you know your phone/iPad was stolen, alert police to the general location of the device. Police departments are becoming accustomed to dealing with this.
  5. Put a pass code onto your phone as soon as you get it. If you don’t, the thief can wipe your phone clean immediately (by plugging into their computer and restoring factory settings). The pass code won’t stop more sophisticated criminals, but it will prevent many of them from being able to re-sell (making it more likely that you’ll get the phone back).
  6. Register your serial number somewhere as soon as you get the device. If it’s stolen you can report it to the carrier, and the carrier will block that device from getting back on the network.
  7. If you have data on the device that you’re worried about, you can go to iCloud and do a "remote clean" where you wipe all the data off the device.
The following links may be helpful in setting up locate applications on your smart phone:




Additional Safety Tips

Notice other people:
Look at the people around you. Not just a momentary casual glance, but take a good look. Notice if they just glance at you (a normal reaction when making eye contact with a stranger) or if they are watching you. If you notice that they are paying more than momentary attention to you, that may be a red flag that you are about to be targeted.

Avoid open display of valuables:
The open display of valuables, including jewelry, cash, and/or high-end electronics (including iPads, iPhones, etc.) in public places could be just the information a potential thief needs to target you as his next victim.

Trust your instincts:

If someone makes you feel uneasy, trust your instincts and act accordingly. Whether indoors or out, change directions and proceed to areas where other people may be around. Report your concerns immediately to the nearest police department.

Assess your own vulnerability:

Strangers aren't out to attack YOU. It is nothing personal; they are just looking for the easiest target of opportunity. Your goal, therefore, is to look like somebody who will be too much trouble to mess with. They also want to make you their victim without attracting attention from others. Make it a point, wherever you go, to stay in areas where other people are present. As soon as you enter an area where no one else is around, your guard and defenses should be on alert.

While cell phones have become an important part of our lives, they can also be a distraction, preventing us from observing what is going on around us.

AUM Police officers see, on a daily basis, pedestrians, both on campus and in the surrounding area, walking around openly displaying high-end electronics (talking on their iPhones, texting on their phones, listening to music). And this includes tablets. Not only are these pedestrians oblivious to what is going on around them, they are openly displaying their valuables to potential thieves. Some pedestrians place themselves at risk of being hit by a car when they step off curbs to cross the street, not looking for approaching cars because they don't take their eyes off their hand-held electronic device!

Keep your head up and walk purposefully. Look at your surroundings and be aware of them. Headphones may give the impression that you are less aware, as well as being completely engaged in a cell phone conversation.

To reduce your chances of becoming a victim, AUM Police recommend you routinely walk in areas where you can see others and others can see you.

Criminals do not want to be caught "in the act" of committing a crime. They prefer areas where neither potential victims nor witnesses will see them. By staying in populated areas, you increase your chances of never being selected as a victim.

Remember - AUM Police are a phone call away to assist you at 244-3424.