Activation Lock responsible for massive drop in iPhone thefts

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There are plenty of stories about iPhone thefts causing spikes in crime statistics, but according to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman Apple’s introduction of an iPhone kill switch may be starting to turn around.

Measuring crime after the iPhone’s Activation Lock was first introduced in iOS 7, police in  San Francisco, London, and New York claim that San Francisco robberies fell by 38 percent, London robberies by 24 percent, and New York robberies by 19 percent — while grand larcenies in NYC including the iPhone 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,” Schneiderman says. “If these can be canceled like the equivalent of canceling a credit card, these are going to be the equivalent of stealing a paperweight.”

Having previously teamed with San Francisco attorney George Gascón to spearhead a crackdown on smartphone thefts, Schneiderman has previously praised Apple’s Activation Lock as the “world’s first attempt to implement a technological solution to the global smartphone theft epidemic.”

According to survey data released in December last year, around 78% of iPhones are now protected by Activation Lock.

This April, Apple has entered into a voluntary agreement with the makers of several other smartphones to include anti-theft technology on all phones going on sale after July 2015. The combination of Apple’s Activation Lock and much-lauded Find My iPhone features mean that Apple likely already fits the various requirements of the agreement.

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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