Top 10 cities for missing cellphones: Stolen-phone database a boon

Major wireless carriers are teaming up to combat cellphone theft, and there are some cities in the U.S. where smartphone owners should be doing cartwheels.

The FCC on Tuesday morning announced a new effort with top wireless carriers, including AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint, to create a central stolen-phone database. The move will likely benefit all cellphone users, but some cities in particular have a huge problem with phones that go missing -- Philadelphia tops the list. Seattle is second, followed by Oakland and Long Beach in California, according to a San Francisco-based mobile security firm.

The top 10 cities where phones are most likely to be stolen or lost was released late last month by Lookout, the company’s Michelle Masek told The Times on Tuesday. The rest of the top 10, in order: Newark, N.J.; Detroit; Cleveland; Baltimore; New York; Boston.

The company also ranked cities where the cost of phones, if unrecovered, was the highest. Atlanta topped that list with a price tag of $50 million last year.

The government-private move to thwart the theft of smartphones and other mobile devices is part of a larger effort to encourage consumers to take other safety precautions, reports The Times’ Jim Puzzanghera.

Lookout’s Alicia diVittorio, a mobile safety advocate, echoed that sentiment: “Setting a pass code is your phone’s first line of defense. If you lose your phone or if it’s stolen, having a pass code set will keep snoopers out of your personal information.”

DiVittorio also noted the expense of stolen or lost phones. “Lost phones in Los Angeles last year were valued at more than $42 million. If those phones go unrecovered, that’s a huge expense.”

Here’s Lookout’s top 10 cities with the highest price tag in 2011 for unrecovered phones that were stolen or lost:

1) Atlanta -- $50 million
2) Fort Worth, Texas -- $48 million
3) Philadelphia -- $48 million
4) Long Beach -- $47 million
5) Oakland -- $45 million
6) Los Angeles -- $24 million
7) Chicago -- $40 million
8) Houston -- $39 million
9) New York -- $35 million
10) Tampa -- $33 million


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