Are you carrying “mugger bait”?  That’s the new term police are using to describe our cellphones.  Because in the past year, a whopping 40 percent of robberies involved cellphones! In fact, cellphone thefts are so common in San Francisco, that police now refer to them as “modern-day purse snatchings!” The difference is that, unlike purses, today’s phones can contain our entire digital lives – including bank account information, private emails, and more.

So how do we protect ourselves from becoming “mugger bait”? Here are some tips from New York City police lieutenant John Grimpel:

First: Hang up when you walk. Thieves tend to target people who are so focused on their phones, that they aren’t paying attention to the world around them. So, never text or talk while you walk.  And even if you’re just sitting still, Lieutenant Grimpel says to stay aware of your surroundings at all times.

Also, when you’re not using them, keep your gadgets out of sight. Because statistics show that most cellphone and tablet robberies happen in restaurants or bars.  That’s where people tend to leave their gadgets on the table in front of them, for example, so they never miss a text, tweet, or status update. But when you do that, all it takes is a split-second distraction for a thief to grab your gadget and run!

Next, put a password on your phone. That way, in case your phone is stolen, it’s much harder for thieves to gain access to your personal information.

Finally, make sure you download a phone-finder app - Like Find My iPhone or Where’s My Droid? They use technology that can be used to trace the location of your phone after it gets lost or stolen.