T-Mobile Sidekick 'most stolen phone in America'

T-Mobile Sidekick 'most stolen phone in America'

Summary: The T-Mobile Sidekick might not be the best-selling phone in the United States (that honor goes to the Apple iPhone 3G), but it may be the most stolen.(Somewhere, Paris Hilton is cringing.

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The T-Mobile Sidekick might not be the best-selling phone in the United States (that honor goes to the Apple iPhone 3G), but it may be the most stolen.

(Somewhere, Paris Hilton is cringing.)

Boston police reported more than 300 stolen Sidekicks in 2008, accounting for 14 percent of all robberies in the city. In Providence, R.I., a majority of the roughly 190 cell phone thefts last year were of the Sidekick. New York City saw a 59 percent surge in subway robberies in December compared with the previous year, driven largely by thieves targeting high-end cell phones, especially the Sidekick.

(Perhaps it's just a matter of time before the iPhone 3G tops the list.)

According to Checkmend.com, a site that tracks stolen cell phones and bills itself as "the global second-hand stolen goods database for public & trade checking," the Sidekick is among the most-pilfered worldwide, even though the Sidekick's primary market is the U.S., where it is available for $100 after rebate.

Curiously, the Sidekick is not ubiquitous, and has never cracked the list of the five top-selling cell phones since consumer research firm NPD Group began the ranking in 2005. Instead, thieves may target Sidekicks because of an unquantifiable "urban hipness" quotient and an easy resale factor.

Like all T-Mobile phones, the Sidekick uses a SIM card that stores the user's personal information, account information and contacts. The Sidekick may be more attractive to thieves because they can easily and completely erase the owner from a SIM-card enabled phone, according to an article by the AP.

The phone is also an attractive target because it's easy to physically steal thanks to how the device is held: with two hands, to use the keyboard, rather than with a firm single-hand grip, like most traditional phones.

(Perhaps it's just a matter of time before the Sidekick-like T-Mobile G1 is a victim, too.)

What's more, the Sidekick can be manipulated so it can be used on other networks that also use SIM cards, such as that of AT&T. Unlike in Europe, cell phone companies don't share information when a phone is stolen, so rival companies may never know if one of their customers is using a stolen phone from another network, according to the article.

An estimated 600,000 cell phones are reported lost or stolen in a year, according to a 2007 report by the Better Business Bureau.

Topics: Telcos, Hardware, Mobility

Andrew Nusca

About Andrew Nusca

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. During his tenure, he was the editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation.

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