Tourist season kicks up, so does cell phone theft

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Police are starting to see more crime as the tourist season starts to pick up and more people come to the beach. A large chunk of that crime stems from cell phone theft.

There are apps available that help you track stolen smartphones, but those apps can't always help police locate it.

"Unfortunately in Myrtle Beach, you're dealing more with a city environment, where, an example would be the convention center," says David Knipes, Captain of the Myrtle Beach Police Department. "If a cell phone is stolen, it could tell you it's at the convention center, but if there's 10 thousand people in there, it's not going to pinpoint exactly where it is, so it's impossible to locate in that crowd. Same thing along Ocean Blvd, it could tell you it's at a certain location along Ocean Boulevard, but that might be a hotel with 150 rooms, so you can't check 150 rooms for a cell phone."

Capt. Knipes says he's never seen a cell phone app help locate a stolen phone for this reason.
But The Horry County Police Department covers a much more rural area, and that's the key for making these apps work.

The HCPD says as long as the victim has the app downloaded, it's the first thing they check for, because they have success using that method.
The app pinpoints an address that police follow, but if the app doesn't work it's very difficult to find the suspect -- because they don't normally want the phone to use as their own service, they want to sell it.

Several applications that can be used if a smartphone is stolen:

Find my iPhone (free) - allows you to use another iOS device to locate your missing iPhone on a map, protect your private data, display a message, play a sound at full volume for a few minutes, and remotely lock your device.

GadgetTrak ($3.99) - generates location reports, sends a message to your device, snaps a photo of the thief with the built-in camera.

Mobile Spy ($99.97 per year) - allows you to monitor your iPhone in real time by providing reports of incoming and outgoing calls, SMS, GPS locations, contact list, emails, website URLs, photos and videos.

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