iPhone’s new kill switch cuts thefts dramatically

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iPhone 6 Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Smartphones have been linked to rising crime in New York and San Francisco thanks to their allure among thieves, and according to the FCC it’s getting even worse, with a new study finding 10% of all robberies now involve the theft of a smartphone.

For iPhone owners there is some good news though. The FCC says theft of iOS devices has been on the decline ever since Apple added Activation Lock in iOS 7. Thieves in San Francisco are reportedly passing up on the iPhone now that users have a kill switch, leading to a 38% decline in iPhone robberies.

iPhone thefts in New York City were also down 19% in the first five months of 2014, and in London they’ve dropped 24%. Android owners aren’t as lucky though.

In 2013 the FCC found 3.1 million Americans had their smartphones stolen, amounting to a 1.5 million increase from the 1.6 million mark set in 2012. After digging through the full 136-page report, Gizmodo found the following interesting facts:

    22 percent of smartphone users installed software that can locate their phone
    34 percent of smartphone users don’t take any security measures
    36 percent of users set a screen lock with a 4-digit pin
    46 percent of robberies in New York in 2013 involved a smartphone
    59 percent of robberies in San Francisco in 2013 involved a smartphone

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, told a panel on Thursday that smartphone theft has become “a national problem” that needs a national solution. The FCC’s report asks the wireless industry to add better protections for consumers, like making smartphones less useful after they’re stolen.