Cell Phone Thieves Get More Than the Phone

Devices now full-blown computers, expert says

Strangers can get instant access to the deepest secrets of the thousands of people who lose their cell phones every day.

Lucy Garcia, of Dallas, had her phone stolen a few weeks ago.

"As soon as I went to make a call, it was just gone," she said.

Garcia said she lost everything from phone numbers to photos and even a list of her computer passwords.

"Pictures -- I mean those are just memories," she said. "But (I lost) passwords for where I work at, personal passwords."

John Wiechman, who runs TLSI, a computer forensics company in Arlington, said cell phones are not simply phones.

"The technology has changed from being just a phone to being a full-blown computer," he said.

Wiechman examines cell phones for people involved in court cases.

"There are no secrets," he said. "This is the electronic age. Big Brother is here. We do watch. We look -- and we snoop."

He has cables for just about every cell phone ever made.

Using an iPhone and a high-tech gadget, Wiechman demonstrated how he can suck out every tidbit of information in just seconds.

He can view incoming and outgoing numbers, text messages, pictures and e-mails -- even deleted ones.

Garcia said it was "sort of scary" that cell phone thieves could get "your whole life -- what you did, where you're going" from a stolen phone.

Wiechman said it's much safer if people password-protect their phones.

"The phones aren't being locked," he said. "People aren't even keyboard-locking their phones anymore. They'd rather drive down the road and (text) all the time."

Some manufacturers are working on ways to track stolen cell phones.

More Information: TLSI

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