Long lines for the newest iPhones last summer were just one sign of their popularity. Another sign has been the growth of a healthy black market, for the sale and resale of iPhones.
iPhone owner Jeremiah Taylor said he's received lots of offers for his previous iPhones, and their parts. He assumes it's because there are people looking for iPhones who want to avoid lengthy service contracts.
“I can actually resell it for more than I paid,” Taylor said. “Because of the fact that you have to lock into an agreement to purchase one, there is a black market to get around that, just like any other commodity.”
Bob McAnulty, another iPhone user said, “You can buy them on E-Bay, jail-broken, by people who know what they're doing. Two hundred bucks. Three hundred bucks.”
The increasing thefts of iPhones have led to new phrases, like the "iCrime Wave.”
In Paris, police said subway thefts of iPhones are so common, they refer to it as thieves "going to pick apples."
Here in Chicago, the CTA said thefts of all kinds were up 7.6 percent in 2010 over 2009, but the CTA cannot say how many of those thefts involved smart-phones.
On the black market, some stolen phones are simply resold for several hundred dollars apiece.
Others are shipped abroad to sophisticated identity thieves, who lift personal data like social security numbers and credit information from the phones.
Taylor said when he rides the El, he is always alert to the possibility of theft.
“I keep my wallet and my phones in my front pockets, never my back, and I always know where they are at.”