New Stolen Phone Database Having Little Effect on Thefts

FindmyiphoneA new national stolen phone database is having little effect on smartphone thefts in the U.S., according to an article in The New York Times. The country's four major carriers all contribute to the database, which lists stolen phone ID numbers that should not be activated on domestic networks. However, the database appears to be ineffective for several reasons.

For one, the database has no effect on phones taken overseas, where many stolen phones end up. Second, the unique identifiers can be changed by organized theft rings. As a result, some law enforcement authorities have begun pressing smartphone manufacturers to build a kill switch into phones.

George Gascón, San Francisco’s district attorney, says handset makers like Apple should be exploring new technologies that could help prevent theft. In March, he said, he met with an Apple executive, Michael Foulkes, who handles its government relations, to discuss how the company could improve its antitheft technology. But he left the meeting, he said, with no promise that Apple was working to do so.

He added, “Unlike other types of crimes, this is a crime that could be easily fixed with a technological solution.”

The Times also compares smartphone theft to car theft, which has plummeted in recent years because of technological changes in automobiles that make them more difficult to steal and part out.

Cynical observers note that Apple and other carriers financially benefit from phone theft because most victims buy another phone, though Apple has gone to some expense to develop the 'Find My iPhone' service and to encourage iPhone owners to activate the service during the setup process.

Google does not include any such service in Android, though there are some third-party products that are similar to Apple's service.

Top Rated Comments

spiderman0616 Avatar
111 months ago
This is a non-story. Find My iPhone is far better as far as anti-theft than anything anyone else has. You can lock, remote wipe, or send messages to your phone if it's stolen. What else does the New York Times want Apple to do, hire a police force to stop the thieves?

The media coverage of Apple is becoming absolutely ridiculous. I'm almost ready to unfollow MacRumors just for giving this stupidity even more attention.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Crzyrio Avatar
111 months ago
No doubt, Apple is very easily capable of tracking lost phones or erasing them via IMEI or UDID or something

But in order for them to do that, they would have to jump through a LOTTT of hoops .

Think about it, the moment Apple tells you they are able to track your ever location through your imei, cue in everyone with 'i dont wanna use an iphone because apple can do that'

That is just an example, I am sure there are a ton of laws preventing them from doing this
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
M-O Avatar
111 months ago
To be honest, I've never quite understood Find My iPhone. Yes, it's very handy in tracking down where your iPhone is and exactly who has it and hell even following them home. But it's the "erase" feature that has me confused. The option to completely wipe the device, effectively restoring it to factory settings allowing the thief to sync it with their PC and have a fully functioning iPhone with little to no hassle...?

my data is way more valuable to me than my phone.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
cambox Avatar
111 months ago
What a surprise that Apple have no interest in stopping theft. My Iphone was taken to an Apple store after it was stolen and the phone was on the list. Apple did absolutely nothing even tho they knew stolen. Cheers Apple!
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
gnasher729 Avatar
111 months ago
To be honest, I've never quite understood Find My iPhone. Yes, it's very handy in tracking down where your iPhone is and exactly who has it and hell even following them home. But it's the "erase" feature that has me confused. The option to completely wipe the device, effectively restoring it to factory settings allowing the thief to sync it with their PC and have a fully functioning iPhone with little to no hassle...?

And without your address, all your friends addresses, all the bank details that you left on your phone, and so on. Maybe private photos. For many people, the loss of the phone is less important than someone being able to read everything.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
chrisch3n Avatar
111 months ago
I've personally had my iPhone stolen and the first thing the thief did was turn my phone off. I used the "find my iPhone" app for days and the thief never once turned the phone on when I checked, basically making the app useless.

I think a 4 digit password should be entered every time you try to turn the phone off, this might buy you some time to actually put the "find my iPhone" app to use.

Just a suggestion, but it could be effective in helping to stop amateur thieves.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

General Apps Messages

Android iMessage Competitor Puts Pressure on Apple

Friday July 30, 2021 3:15 am PDT by
Google and the three major U.S. carriers, including Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, will all support a new communications protocol on Android smartphones starting in 2022, a move that puts pressure on Apple to adopt a new cross-platform messaging standard and may present a challenge to iMessage. Verizon recently announced that it is planning to adopt Messages by Google as its default messaging...
iphone 13 teal with text

Apple Begins Preparation for iPhone 13 Production Ahead of Fall Launch

Monday June 28, 2021 3:29 am PDT by
We're just a few months away from when Apple is expected to reveal the 2021 iPhone, dubbed the "iPhone 13." In preparation for its launch, it has been pulling in shipments of different components needed to produce the new iPhones, according to a report from DigiTimes. In years past, Apple released its latest iPhone lineup, alongside a new Apple Watch, during a September event at Apple Park....
studio buds family

Beats Studio Buds Debuting Today With Active Noise Cancellation, Stemless Design, and More for $150

Monday June 14, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
We've seen a lot of teasers about the Beats Studio Buds over the past month since they first showed up in Apple's beta software updates, and today they're finally official. The Beats Studio Buds are available to order today in red, white, and black ahead of a June 24 ship date, and they're priced at $149.99. The Studio Buds are the first Beats-branded earbuds to truly compete with AirPods...
bluetti eb70 main

MacRumors Giveaway: Win a Bluetti EB70 Portable Power Station and 200W Solar Panel

Friday September 3, 2021 11:13 am PDT by
For this week's giveaway, we've teamed up with MAXOAK to offer MacRumors readers a chance to win a Bluetti portable power station and an accompanying solar panel. Bluetti makes a range of portable power station options that are useful for camping, emergencies, power outages, off-grid living, and similar situations. The Bluetti EB70 is a solid middle of the road option that offers 716Wh and...
apple privacy

Apple Publishes FAQ to Address Concerns About CSAM Detection and Messages Scanning

Monday August 9, 2021 1:50 am PDT by
Apple has published a FAQ titled "Expanded Protections for Children" which aims to allay users' privacy concerns about the new CSAM detection in iCloud Photos and communication safety for Messages features that the company announced last week. "Since we announced these features, many stakeholders including privacy organizations and child safety organizations have expressed their support of...
macos catalina legacy system extension alert

Apple Begins Warning Users That 'Legacy System Extensions' Won't Work With a Future Version of macOS

Wednesday March 25, 2020 9:53 am PDT by
Apple has shared a new support document that indicates kernel extensions — which it calls "legacy system extensions" — will not be compatible with a future version of macOS because they "aren't as secure or reliable as modern alternatives."System extensions are a category of software that works in the background to extend the functionality of your Mac. Some apps install kernel extensions, which...
General Spotify Feature

Spotify Pauses Plans to Add AirPlay 2 Support to iOS App [Update: Spotify Clarifies]

Friday August 6, 2021 9:07 am PDT by
See update at bottom of article Spotify this week confirmed that its plans to add AirPlay 2 support to its iOS app have been placed on indefinite hiatus. In an online discussion forum post, a Spotify representative said the streaming music service had been working on supporting AirPlay 2, but the company has paused the efforts "for now" due to "audio driver compatibility issues." The...
youtube apple tv

YouTube Discontinuing 3rd-Generation Apple TV App, AirPlay Still Available

Wednesday February 3, 2021 3:09 pm PST by
YouTube is planning to stop supporting its YouTube app on the third-generation Apple TV models, where YouTube has long been available as a channel option. A 9to5Mac reader received a message about the upcoming app discontinuation, which is set to take place in March.Starting early March, the YouTube app will no longer be available on Apple TV (3rd generation). You can still watch YouTube on...
os x mountain lion macs 16x9 2

Apple Makes OS X Lion and Mountain Lion Free to Download

Wednesday June 30, 2021 12:19 pm PDT by
Apple recently dropped the $19.99 fee for OS X Lion and Mountain Lion, making the older Mac updates free to download, reports Macworld. Apple has kept OS X 10.7 Lion and OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion available for customers who have machines limited to the older software, but until recently, Apple was charging $19.99 to get download codes for the updates. As of last week, these updates no...
Pixel Stand 23W 668x445

Google Pixel 6 Rumored to Support 23W Wireless Charging, Beating iPhone 12's MagSafe

Wednesday September 1, 2021 1:54 am PDT by
Google is rumored to be working on a new wireless charging stand that could deliver 23W of charging power to its upcoming Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro phones, according to a leaked inventory image published by Android Police. Image via Android Police. If true, that would beat the iPhone 12's maximum 15W wireless charging speed (or 12W on ‌iPhone 12 mini‌) using Apple's MagSafe charger, and...