“Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. will incorporate a ‘kill switch’ into the next versions of their smartphone operating systems as evidence mounts that such security measures may be deterring theft, the New York attorney general’s office said,” Christie Smythe reports for Bloomberg. “More than 30 percent of robberies in major cities involve mobile phones, with some instances of theft also including violence, according to the Federal Communications Commission. Following Apple Inc.’s release of a kill switch in September, thefts of iPhones in some cities ‘plummeted,’ said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who helped start a law enforcement coalition aimed at addressing the thefts.”
“The Secure Our Smartphones Initiative group said in a report today that robberies involving Apple products in New York dropped 19 percent in the first five months of 2014 compared with the same period last year. In San Francisco and London, robberies involving Apple products dropped 38 percent and 24 percent, respectively, according to Schneiderman’s office,” Smythe reports. “According to the analytics firm ComScore Inc., Android has a 52.5 percent market share in the U.S., while Apple has 41.4 percent and Microsoft has 3.3 percent.”
Read more in the full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: So, not having addressed the root cause, to what items have criminals moved on to? Watches, jewelry, purses, sneakers, wallets? All of the above? After all, the criminals still need something to steal; if you take one thing away, they’ll simply look for something else to take. It’s like covering skin cancer with a band-aid; just because you can’t see it in that place, the cancer is still there, waiting to pop up somewhere else. If smartphone thefts actually are declining, you won’t find a list of the items that are increasingly stolen in any press releases from self-servicing, band-aid-applying attorneys general. Schneiderman hasn’t diminished crime, he simply moved it, shell game-style.
Bottom line: Good news for smartphone users, bad news for everyone else, as the criminals who would steal your smartphone lurk untouched.
As we wrote back in May:
This is a sorry admission that the state cannot adequately protect its law-abiding citizens from the criminals who prey upon them.
Minimizing the attractiveness of objects to thieves is not the same as minimizing thievery… The thieves still exist; they’ll simply turn back to stealing wallets, jewelry, purses, and even the sneakers off your feet.
Imagine if the lawmakers instead actually adequately dealt with the thieves and the causes (drugs, mainly) that make them steal property from others? Law-abiding citizens would then actually be able to freely walk about with their property, enjoying life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (hey, that sounds vaguely familiar) instead of hiding their smartphones (as authorities in some major cities actually advise in another blatant admission of their failure), cowering in fear, ready to flip the “kill switch” at any moment the expected crime occurs (for which they are often basically blamed: “Why’d you use your iPhone out in public?”).
The problem is not the iPhone. The problm is not the iPhone owner. The problem is the criminal. iPhones don’t steal iPhones. Criminals steal iPhones (and purses, wallets, watches, sneakers, and whatever else they can fence for drug money).
You can have seventeen “kill switches” per smartphone and the root problem will remain untouched. What [will politicians demand next], exploding shoe laces on Air Jordans? Empty pocketbooks? Non-removable watches?
Politicians who apply band-aids in order to make the local news (“Look, I hid the cancer for a day or so! Mindlessly reelect me!”) should be replaced by those who can perform the surgery that is so desperately required to cure the suffering patient.
Big ideas, not little. Steve Jobs, not Michael Dell.
MacDailyNews Note: With iOS 7 or later, Find My iPhone includes a new feature called Activation Lock, which is turned on automatically when you set up Find My iPhone. Activation Lock makes it harder for anyone to use or sell your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch if it’s ever lost or stolen.
With Activation Lock, your Apple ID and password are required before anyone can:
• Turn off Find My iPhone on your device
• Sign out of iCloud on your device
• Erase and reactivate your device
Important: Make sure to remember your Apple ID and password, and that your password is unique and secure—someone else shouldn’t be able to guess it. For more information, see the Apple Support article Security and your Apple ID.
Before giving away or selling your device, be sure to erase your content and settings (go to Settings > General > Reset). When you erase your content, Find My iPhone and Activation Lock are also turned off. If you no longer have the device, follow the instructions to remove a device you no longer have. For more information, see the Apple Support article What to do before selling or giving away your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.
For more information about Activation Lock, see the Apple Support article Find My iPhone Activation Lock in iOS 7.
California Senate passes mandatory smartphone ‘kill switch’ bill – May 9, 2014
Will Apple’s ‘kill switch’ tamp down iPhone thefts? – May 4, 2014
San Francisco District Attorney to Apple: Enable Activation Lock on every iPhone by default – December 18, 2013
Attorneys General for New York and San Francisco strongly urge iPhone and iPad users to download iOS 7 – September 19, 2013
S.F. district attorney optimistic over Apple, Samsung progress on anti-theft tech for smartphones – July 23, 2013
U.S. State and federal governments test Apple’s iOS 7 activation lock feature – July 18, 2013
U.S. officials call on Apple, other mobile device makers to help stop smartphone theft – June 6, 2013
The New York Times tries to blame Apple for smartphone thefts – May 2, 2013