iOS 7's Activation Lock Feature Helping Reduce iPhone Theft in Three Major Cities

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced today that Apple's Activation Lock feature in iOS 7 has led to a "significant" reduction of iPhone-related theft in New York, London, and San Francisco, reports The New York Times.

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Measuring crime after Apple introduced Activation Lock alongside iOS 7 last Fall, police officers in San Francisco said that iPhone robberies in the city fell 38 percent, with London experiencing a 24 percent drop. Meanwhile, the New York Police Department said that iPhone robberies dropped 19 percent, while grand larcenies including the device dropped 29 percent in the first five months of 2014 compared to the same time period last year.

“The introduction of kill switches has clearly had an effect on the conduct of smartphone thieves,” Mr. Schneiderman said in an interview. “If these can be canceled like the equivalent of canceling a credit card, these are going to be the equivalent of stealing a paperweight.”

Apple's Activation Lock feature, which prevents stolen phones from being reactivated without an iCloud password, has received praise from various groups since its inclusion in iOS 7. Schneiderman, along with San Francisco attorney George Gascón, spearheaded smartphone anti-theft efforts last year and called Apple's Activation Lock the "world's first attempt to implement a technological solution to the global smartphone theft epidemic."

Apple also entered a voluntary agreement with a number of other smartphone makers in April to include anti-theft technology on all smartphones going on sale after July 2015. Under that agreement, every phone sold would have capabilities allowing users to remotely wipe data and to prevent reactivation without the owner's permission. It is likely that Apple's Activation Lock and Find My iPhone features already satisfy the requirements of the agreement.

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Top Rated Comments

fallenjt Avatar
130 months ago
I wish iOS had an option to enter the passcode to turn off the phone. Now, thieves can't turn off the device and just wait for "Find My iPhone" to track them down.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
FrozenDarkness Avatar
130 months ago
I wish iOS had an option to enter the passcode to turn off the phone. Now, thieves can't turn off the device and just wait for "Find My iPhone" to track them down.

that's actually pretty smart. amazing.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BvizioN Avatar
130 months ago
I wish iOS had an option to enter the passcode to turn off the phone. Now, thieves can't turn off the device and just wait for "Find My iPhone" to track them down.
that's actually pretty smart. amazing.
Pointless, if thieves are still able to remove the sim card!!
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Daveoc64 Avatar
130 months ago
I wish iOS had an option to enter the passcode to turn off the phone. Now, thieves can't turn off the device and just wait for "Find My iPhone" to track them down.

Or they could use Control Center to turn Airplane Mode on from the lock screen.

That would actually be really smart considering you can't take out the battery. Atleast, not relatively easily...might submit this idea to Apple.

that's actually pretty smart. amazing.

It's not all that smart (it's been thought of many times before and dismissed for a range of reasons) and it would almost certainly be illegal in some places. For safety reasons, you need to be able to turn off a device which contains radios without requiring a password.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Fzang Avatar
130 months ago
The thieves will just toss it in water.

...Which would kind of invalidate the point in stealing a phone? Might as well just grab it out of people's hand and smash it to the ground, on the street.

Or the thieves could just hide it in metal/concrete that would block all signal or, if your phone is on AT&T's network, the thieves would just kick back and laugh.

This is great, but what ever happened with those hackers who claimed they could unlock iPhones locked by Activation Lock and that they were unlocking thousands of stolen devices?

These people almost deserved to have their phones hacked though.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
moldy lunchbox Avatar
130 months ago
I wish iOS had an option to enter the passcode to turn off the phone. Now, thieves can't turn off the device and just wait for "Find My iPhone" to track them down.

That would actually be really smart considering you can't take out the battery. Atleast, not relatively easily...might submit this idea to Apple.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)