Security 101

The Evolution of Mobile Theft & Loss | MTLR 2020

The second edition of MTLR comes with a year-to-year comparison on where phones are stolen the most, how, and who is responsible. Did you know it’s 6X times more likely to be robbed in a school or office than at a bar!?

Mobile Theft & Loss Report 2020

Last year we unveiled the first edition of the Mobile Theft & Loss Report, Prey’s year-to-year statistics report on lost device causes. There we revealed quite a few facts about how people lost their gadgets during 2018:

  • 3 out of 5 times people lose their own gadgets, instead of suffering a robbery.
  • 65% of mobile losses and thefts happen in expectedly safe locations.

And more, as we presented top recurrent theft & loss locations, the most frequent types of theft, and the most affected type of devices. You can read the full report here, or check out the brief on this post!

The Second Edition of the Mobile Theft & Loss Report: 2020

This time, we get to compare how the trends evolved year to year and discover new facts about theft… Such as recovery times, and a new type of thieves that are out there to get your devices! Let’s take a look.

Statistics on pickpocket locations

Did you know that pickpockets in the street rose had a 40% increase relative to last year’s data? Plus, a new trend emerged with the rise of pickpockets in schools and universities, a trend that is also seen in regular robberies. On the other hand, public transports moved to second place since last year and displays a sharp decline of 43%.

Statistics on mobile robbery locations

When it comes to robberies, the streets continue to dominate by a large margin. After all, 3 out of 5 mobile robberies happen in the streets. We discovered that the margin was way more huge than before due to a mistake in data categorization in 2018.

On the other hand schools and universities continue to rise in theft-related events, to the point of becoming the 2nd most frequent place of robbery.

The New Threat: Opportunists

In the last report, we talked about different characters responsible for loss and theft: the owner, and thieves. After analyzing 2019’s recovery stories, and comparing them with the ones from the previous report, we identified a third actor who is ready to take your gadgets.

Opportunists are thieves, yes, but not the regular stereotype you’d find in a movie or tv series. They are people you know and share spaces with, and maybe even that you are comfortable with.

Opportunists steal mobile devices

These people, when presented with the opportunity, become thieves. We’ve seen everything. From students stealing from other students to cousins stealing in family meetups, or coworkers pickpocketing their fellow team members.

Average Recovery Times

In this edition, we also showcased for the first time data on average device recovery times. We learned that the average recovery is of 4.6 days, and that there is a key 24-hour recovery gap in which a user has to concentrate its efforts.

average recovery time stolen phone

After this period, the recovery chances aren’t lowered per se, but the time frame for recovery becomes vague and unpredictable. There are no patterns in the information, and it could range from 1 week to a year.

Why? We found that in most cases there are two main scenarios:

  • The thief resells the device right away, and it stays in a shop turned off until it is bought. When that happens, it is tracked again.
  • The thief takes the SIM off and stays offline for a week before using it for himself. Thus delaying the initial tracking starting point.

Discover all theft statistics on MTLR 2020.

You can now get a copy of the Mobile Theft & Loss Report 2020 at our website, and learn how theft and loss evolve each year; and what risks you should stay alert for when securing your phone, laptop, or tablet.

We hope you enjoy this year’s update, and we’re working on bringing you more information regarding theft, loss, the thieves’ modus operandi, and more! Stay tuned for it, and stay safe. Remember that staying aware is the first step towards being more secure.

Nicolas Poggi

Nico Poggi is Prey's growth and mobile research manager at Prey Inc, exploring innovations, and the evolution of the security and privacy landscape. Nico also serves as the brand's curator, overseeing the company's voice across its platform and communications.