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
105 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
105 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
105 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
105 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
105 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
105 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)

Top Stories

tile sticker e1570533758981

Tile CEO: 'We Welcome Competition From Apple, But We Think It Needs to Be Fair'

Tuesday May 4, 2021 9:51 am PDT by
Just after Apple announced its AirTags, Tile CEO CJ Prober relayed his concerns about competing with Apple in the tracking space, and said that Tile would ask Congress to investigate Apple's business practices specific to Find My and item trackers. Prober this week did an interview with Bloomberg, where he further expanded on Tile's complaints about Apple and why he feels that Tile is...
signal instagram ads3

Signal Shares the Instagram Ads Facebook Doesn't Want You to See

Wednesday May 5, 2021 1:29 am PDT by
Encrypted messaging app Signal has had a series of Instagram ads blocked from the social media platform, after it attempted to show users how much data the Facebook-owned company collects about them and how it's used to push targeted ads. In a blog post, Signal described how it generated the ads to show users why they were seeing them, simply by declaring upfront the information that the...
tracking disabled ios 14 5

Analytics Suggest 96% of Users Leave App Tracking Disabled in iOS 14.5

Friday May 7, 2021 1:51 am PDT by
An early look at an ongoing analysis of Apple's App Tracking Transparency suggests that the vast majority of iPhone users are leaving app tracking disabled since the feature went live on April 26 with the release of iOS 14.5. According to the latest data from analytics firm Flurry, just 4% of iPhone users in the U.S. have actively chosen to opt into app tracking after updating their device...
fortnite apple logo 2

Epic CEO Tim Sweeney Admits App Store's 30% Cut Is Similar to Consoles, Would Have Accepted Special Deal With Apple

Tuesday May 4, 2021 1:54 pm PDT by
Apple's legal battle with Epic Games is continuing on, and during the second day of the trial, Epic Games' CEO Tim Sweeney continued his testimony against Apple. Sweeney was grilled by Apple's lawyers, and made several points seemingly favorable to Apple. In addition to mentioning how he prefers Apple's iPhone and values Apple's privacy policies that he's aiming to dismantle, Sweeney...
snapchat dark mode

Snapchat Rolls Out Dark Mode on iOS

Wednesday May 5, 2021 1:17 am PDT by
Nearly two years following the release of iOS and iPadOS 13, which included native, built-in, and systemwide dark mode, Snapchat, one of the world's most prominent social media networks, has finally rolled out a dark mode theme for iOS users. Snapchat began testing a dark mode theme of its app design late last year with a small group of iOS users. Now, Snapchat says that as of this week, it...
netflix sign up

Apple Discussed 'Punitive Measures' Against Netflix for Dropping In-App Purchases

Wednesday May 5, 2021 11:03 am PDT by
As the Epic Games v. Apple trial progresses into its third day, Apple's internal documents and communications with various companies are continuing to surface, giving us some insight into the dealings that Apple has had around the App Store. Back in December 2018, Netflix stopped offering in-app subscription options for new or resubscribing members and instead began requiring them to sign up ...
iphone 12 preorder purple

Apple Begins Transition to Randomized Serial Numbers With Purple iPhone 12

Wednesday May 5, 2021 9:17 am PDT by
MacRumors previously reported about Apple's plan to switch to randomized serial numbers for future products starting in early 2021, and this transition has now started with the new purple iPhone 12 model in multiple countries. With assistance from Aaron Zollo, host of the YouTube channel ZolloTech, we can confirm that the purple iPhone 12 released last month has a new 10-character serial...
airtag 1

AirTag Anti-Stalking Measures 'Just Aren't Sufficient' Says Washington Post Report

Wednesday May 5, 2021 6:03 pm PDT by
The safeguards that Apple built into AirTags to prevent them from being used to track someone "just aren't sufficient," The Washington Post's Geoffrey Fowler said today in a report investigating how AirTags can be used for covert stalking. Fowler planted an AirTag on himself and teamed up with a colleague to be pretend stalked, and he came to the conclusion that the AirTags are a "new means...
iphone 13 pro max dummy notch

iPhone 13 Pro Max Dummy Model Depicts Smaller Notch

Tuesday May 4, 2021 1:08 pm PDT by
Apple's iPhone 13 models are expected to feature a slimmed down notch, marking the first major change to the TrueDepth camera system since it was introduced in the 2017 iPhone X. We're still months away from the launch of the iPhone 13, but Lewis Hilsenteger of Unbox Therapy managed to get an iPhone 13 Pro Max dummy model that represents what we can expect from the new 2021 device. Dummy...
iPad Pro July Shipping

12.9-Inch iPad Pro Now Delivers as Late as Mid-July

Wednesday May 5, 2021 7:10 am PDT by
While the new 12.9-inch iPad Pro is set to launch in the second half of May, orders placed today are estimated for delivery as late as mid-July on Apple's online store in the United States — some two months later. The new 11-inch iPad Pro is faring better so far, with some configurations available for delivery in the last week of May. The new 12.9-inch iPad Pro features a Liquid Retina XDR ...