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Lost phones cost Americans $30B a year

Caffeine may be responsible for more lost phones than alcohol, a study finds.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 26, 2012 8:53AM

This post comes from Quentin Fottrell at partner site SmartMoney.


SmartMoney on MSN MoneyEvery 3.5 seconds, someone in America loses a cellphone. And more often than not, it happens in a coffee shop, a new study says.


All those absentminded moments add up to $30 billion in annual losses, the report from mobile security company Lookout claims. And after cafés, the most common places people abandon their handsets are bars and offices.


Nighttime seems to be when most phones get misplaced, the study found, given that some 67% of handsets are located between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. Chicago may be the exception, where church is the third most popular place to lose a phone, behind coffee shops and drugstores. (Post continues below.)

Thompson Nguyen, a data scientist at Lookout, says the trail of lost phones gives an insight into the social activities in various cities. New Yorkers, for example, lose most of their phones in fast-food restaurants. (In Dublin, it's the pub.)


There are apps to help people locate their phones via GPS and that allow data to be erased remotely. Lookout has free and premium-services apps for iPhone and Android that can set off an alarm on the lost device, while Apple has a free Find My iPhone app -- but the lost device must have the iCloud settings enabled. Another app, the iHound, costs $3.99 a year for Android and iPhone. It allows users to share their location on Facebook, but otherwise this app does much the same as the others.


Others say there are less scientific ways to look after your phones that won't cost $3.99 or time and worry. New York University marketing professor Vicki G. Morwitz suggests refraining from texting during church services. "You can teach yourself to be more mindful," she says. "After losing my favorite hat in a taxi, I now mindfully check the taxi seat every time after I get up and before I close the door."


The top 10 places for lost or stolen phones:

  1. Coffee shop
  2. Bar
  3. Office
  4. Restaurant
  5. Apartment and condo
  6. Grocery store
  7. Gas station
  8. Residential homes
  9. Pharmacy or drugstore
  10. Park

The top 10 cities for phone loss:

  1. Philadelphia
  2. Seattle
  3. Oakland, Calif. 
  4. Long Beach, Calif. 
  5. Newark, N.J. 
  6. Detroit
  7. Cleveland
  8. Baltimore
  9. New York
  10. Boston

More on SmartMoney and MSN Money:


Apr 2, 2012 11:15PM
If you find a cell phone, why not be a good citizen and call the last number that was called on that person's phone (or the last 2 people)?  I've done this before (St. Patty's day) and I was told the most valuable thing in the purse was the cell phone.  I gave everything back, just made a couple calls and waited 10 minutes and the phone was returned to its rightful owner.  Pay it forward.
Apr 2, 2012 10:38PM
what did we before cell phones? talking on cell in public  is low class and rude i dont care to hear anybody's stupid conversations
Apr 2, 2012 6:26PM
Apr 2, 2012 6:19PM
Most consumers get insurance to replace lost,stolen and damage cellphones.
People lose phone in Casinos all of the time in Las Vegas so what's the big deal just chain the phone to our neck it will never get lost

Apr 3, 2012 12:12AM
If you keep loosing your cell phone, you do not need it.
Apr 2, 2012 7:55PM
WIth many of the communities mentioned, they were probably criminals tossing their disposable 7-11 phones. No loss and they really shouldn't be counted in the totals.
Aug 18, 2012 1:13PM
Most people who find something will want to do the right thing.  This company gives those people a super easy way to notify the owner, without displaying any personal info about the owner -
Apr 2, 2012 7:43PM
WTFWTFWTFWTF!!!!!!!!?????? Hey pogo, we haz met the enemey and it iz us!

It has really been a bad week. I have been living beyond my means buying Apple Toys and Starbuck Coffee Then I left my Apple Toy in Starbuck's and someone walked off with it. I then  maxed out my credit card buying another Apple toy. On my way home I stopped in Starbuck for a coffee. After leaving Starbuck's I was walking home and walked into a tree while texting on my Apple toy, busted my head and spilt my Starbuck Coffee. Now I am at the ER waiting for Medicaid to pay my medical bill.

Mar 26, 2012 4:46PM
Apr 2, 2012 8:42PM
professor Vicki i found your hat "trucker hat that says ima libtard" i gave it to a homeless old lady
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