Smartphone thefts probed by state, city prosecutors as companies fail to act to their liking

“Top state and city law enforcement officials on Thursday will announce an expansive investigation into the failure of Apple and other smartphone manufacturers to adopt measures that may limit a wave of thefts targeting their products, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman told The Huffington Post,” Gerry Smith reports for The Huffington Post. “The coalition includes attorneys general from six states — New York, Illinois, Massachusetts, Delaware, Minnesota and Hawaii — and district attorneys and high-level police officials from eight major cities, including New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Boston, Schneiderman said.”

“The group intends to probe why Apple and other smartphone makers have failed to create a so-called ‘kill switch’ that would render their devices inoperable if stolen — a feature that could undercut the value of stolen gadgets now trading on a global black market. The officials also plan to investigate whether smartphone manufacturers have not adopted effective anti-theft measures out of simple financial interest — a stolen phone generates new business as crime victims buy replacements,” Smith reports. “Replacing lost or stolen cell phones costs American consumers some $30 billion per year, according to a study by the mobile security firm Lookout.”

“The coalition and its far-reaching probe shows that law enforcement officials aren’t satisfied with Apple’s announcement on Monday that it intends to add a new feature to the iPhone aimed at preventing thieves from re-activating stolen devices by requiring that they first enter a password,” Smith reports. “Apple portrayed the new ‘activation lock’ as ‘a really powerful theft deterrent.’ But Schneiderman and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, who have together pressed Apple for action, consider the new feature to be inadequate because it appears to only work if customers have iCloud accounts and activate the ‘Find My iPhone’ app, according to a source familiar with their thinking.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The problem is not the item that’s being stolen. The problem is the person that’s doing the stealing.

Setting up an “iCloud account” [Apple ID] means registering your ownership of device. This is how Apple knows who owns the iPhone, dear coalition of genius politicians.

We suppose you’re right, however, in this day and age expecting people to have even a bit of personal responsibility and turn on theft protection if they desire said theft protection is way, way too much to expect. Better to force something like the “Find My iPhone” app’s remote location-tracking upon people, of course. Better for government tracking, too.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “theloniousmac” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Apple reveals iOS 7 theft deterrent feature ‘Activation Lock’ ahead of gov’t meeting on crime – June 10, 2013
U.S. officials call on Apple, other mobile device makers to help stop smartphone theft – June 6, 2013
New York City crime is up and Mayor Bloomberg blames Apple iPhone thieves – December 28, 2012
Apple product thefts in New York City outpace rise in overall crime – September 25, 2012
Police bust up New York-based crime ring focused on Apple products – October 8, 2011

33 Comments

    1. Lets give these “law makers” their due.

      * Just look at how their efforts with the auto makers in this country have totally stopped car thefts in America. After all, once we stop all thefts in this country, we can fire these guys as their services will no longer be needed *

      Just a thought……. * = heavy sarcasm

  1. Amazing, the people who pass laws that “legitamize” the taking of wealth and financial security from enterprising and hardworking citizens have the gall to denounce Apple and others for failing to stop theft. Must be the government is extending professional courtesy to muggers and burglars.

  2. I demand a probe into the U.S. government and why it hasn’t implemented a self-destruct mechanism into every $1, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 bill to stop theft!!

    I demand a probe into why car manufacturers don’t have a retina scanner in their cars so that only authorized drivers can operate them and thieves and carjackers are prevented from operating the vehicle, and that the car won’t start when you are obviously impaired by alcohol or drugs.

    I demand a probe into window manufacturers and why they have not provided impermeable, unbreakable glass for all home windows so as to prevent thieves from breaking windows and entering property.

    I demand a probe into convenience stores and why there is not an automated, electronic kill net that drops on every robber who threatens a clerk without the clerk having to press a button.

    Sigh. Politicians.

    1. Spot on!

      You forgot one thing….

      I demand a remote detonate on every passenger plane so that when they are hijacked we don’t need to send NORAD to take down the plane.

      Where does this slippery slope lead?

      1. How about a remote deactivation switch on every politician so that we can remove them from office by real-time on-line majority vote when they get out of line?

        “Recall” is so 20th century…

  3. How is it that top city and law enforcement officials get to throw away our taxes on witch hunts like this without asking our permission? Is it defined in their charters that because tax revenues are down they must therefore try to waste as much money as possible? Someone should be forced to answer for this misdirection of funds, just as the DOJ should be forced to answer for the taxpayer money that is being squandered on the lawsuit against Apple for e-book price-fixing. Is it me, or does it seem to anyone else like this kind of thing is getting out of hand?

  4. I have a really hard time believing the cost is 30 Billion. Assuming every phone was an iPhone and cost $600 to replace that would be 50 million phones annually or roughly 15% of the US population. The cost of stolen cars was around 5 Billion in 2011 so this 30B is total nonsense. Speaking of cars why not put a remote kill switch on them? (Rhetorical question. I understand the consequences)

  5. Will IRS investigate operation push for paying money to Jessie Jackson’s love child. 4013c charity paying hush money and Jessie’s daughter goes to California. Nope. Operation push is no tea party.

  6. The government is really going to set a precedent here. What other product type has to have a device to prevent theft? Are they going to produce legislation to enforce this?

    What I really want them to do is to focus on areas that really need to be fixed. How about:
    1. Taxation
    2. The fiscal deficit
    3. Education
    4. Patent law
    5. All other types of law

    The self righteous bunch of assholes do sweet FA except ensure their own re-election and bicker about their partisan viewpoints.

  7. I think the kill switch should be easy to implement. The phone need only figure out that it is no longer in the possession of its rightful owner. How hard can that be to implement? Once we have a thumbprint reader on the phone, to identify the person using the phone as the owner would be trivial. But then I suppose you’d have to get your phone to recognize the prints of anyone to whom you might lend it lest the phone determine that a legitimate borrower was in fact the perpetrator of a crime. Without requiring any action on the part of the legal owner of the phone once said owner realized that he/she was no longer in possession of it would be prone to a myriad of false positives which would then bring about class-action lawsuits. I just have to wonder what goes on in the brains of these people who would hold the manufacturers responsible for a solution to this “problem” without some overt action on the part of the owner of the phone. Who dreams this stuff up?

  8. They could just reroute the NSA to use GPS to track the missing devices, right? That would finally legitimize the NSA ad put it to “good” use.

    Obviously the intelligence communities know where the phones are.

    BTW, how many strikes by government against Apple does it take to finally put the government team put of the game? They need to stop beating up the good guys. And do the job they were told to do in supporting the US Constitution. This is just harassment because they didn’t get any bribe/extortion money.

  9. Attorney Generals should set up a committee to determine why car companies don’t install find my car and disabling software for stolen cars and gunmakers install find my gun device.and electronic disabling of stolen guns.

    Wonder how many iPhone thieves who have been cuaght actually serve hard time. Likely close to zero.

  10. If this BS continues, APlle may just decide to build the space ship in a tax haven, re-incorporate outside the US and never repatriate ay profits and reduce US profits to newar zero – like Amazon.

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