Authorities from two major U.S. cities and London on Tuesday reported (via Reuters) that smartphone theft has dropped drastically since the release of remote-access "kill-switches" that allow users to lock their missing smartphone before any crucial information is stolen. Specifically, the number of stolen iPhones dropped 25 percent in New York, 40 percent in San Francisco, and 50 percent in London.

The study was based on the 12 months following the launch of Activation Lock in September 2013 as part of iOS 7. These numbers have jumped up slightly from a similar report released last summer that saw iPhone thefts in each city fall by 19 percent, 38 percent, and 24 percent, respectively.

ios7_activation_lock
According to Reuters, officials from each of the three cities - London Mayor Boris Johnson, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, and New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman - were each lobbying for laws that required the implementation of remote kill switches into every smartphone sold.

"We have made real progress in tackling the smartphone theft epidemic that was affecting many major cities just two years ago," said London Mayor Boris Johnson.

From data collected by the National Consumers League, Reuters reports that 1.6 million Americans reported stolen handheld devices in 2012. And in California alone - specifically San Francisco, Oakland, and a few other cities - smartphone theft accounts for more than half of all crimes perpetrated in each city.

“The wireless industry continues to roll out sophisticated new features, but preventing their own customers from being the target of a violent crime is the coolest technology they can bring to market,” Gascon said.

Apple's default Activation Lock feature received much praise following its launch in 2013. A few months later Apple and a few other notable smartphone makers, like Samsung and Google, entered into a voluntary agreement to have every smartphone sold on or after July 2015 come pre-installed with a kill-switch, a date that's rapidly approaching. California itself issued a law last August, designating a similar July 2015 date for every smartphone sold in the state to have the anti-theft software pre-installed.

Top Rated Comments

iBlazed Avatar
79 months ago
My sister's iPad Mini was stolen when her apartment was robbed. It was the Verizon LTE version. She kept it activated and the morons who stole it turned it on a couple of times over the next 2 months after it was stolen. Unfortunately for them she had already turned on iCloud lock and set it to notify her if the iPad comes back online. Screenshots with its exact location were sent straight to police. Arrests were made...
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Jacquesvw Avatar
79 months ago
Activation lock hurt my income pretty badly.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
2457282 Avatar
79 months ago
I think this is good news. I am always surprised to see folks that do not have a password to get into their phone (admittedly that is mostly pre-iphone 5s). Everyone I know with a 6 or 6+ has the password turned on. iCloud for find my phone is also great and that adoption seems to be fairly high. I know it helped me recover my phone when I accidently left it in a Car2Go. I was able to track it while talking to the company and even when the next driver claimed not to have it, my ability to track the phone convinced him to turn it in (and that was on the 5s).
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
gnasher729 Avatar
79 months ago
I have helped a few friends and family members replace damaged iPhones with used ones on Craigslist, there are a ton of them on there that say something to the effect of the activation lock being on. Sometimes they say they have no iCloud, it's always worded kind of vague, but at least in Memphis theft still seems pretty prevalent.

Those sold with activation lock won't sell for much. Maybe thieves in Memphis are slow learners.

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If iPhone displays wouldn't be so expensive, theft would drop more. For example in my country atm to replace iPhone 6 display cost about 250 euros.

In the UK, Apple charges £86 for iPhone 6, and £106 for iPhone 6+, 5 and 5s. So maybe you should talk to Apple. £106 = €140 at the moment, but I didn't check prices on the continent.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
neuropsychguy Avatar
79 months ago
If iPhone displays wouldn't be so expensive, theft would drop more. For example in my country atm to replace iPhone 6 display cost about 250 euros.

If Apple gave iPhones away, theft would drop a lot. ;)
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
gnasher729 Avatar
79 months ago
Or the iPhone is slowly becoming an old product and has lost its fashion and reputation.

Or everybody has an iPhone nowadays.

Yeah, Apple is dooooomed.
With only 75 million iPhones sold in the last quarter, it sure looks like an old and unwanted product, that nobody would bother stealing anymore.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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