Activation Lock has slashed iPhone thefts in major cities

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Ericsson wants to stop Apple selling iPhones in the United States. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Drop in crime rate? There's an app for that. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

As highly-desirable and premium-priced tech goodies, it’s no surprise that iPhones have previously been among the most stolen items we carry around on a regular basis. In fact, police have even correlated spikes in crime rate to the launch of new iPhone models — suggesting that it’s not just upstanding citizens who keep an eye on the blogosphere.

That all changed when Apple added its Activation Lock feature with iOS 7, allowing users to locate, lock and even wipe their iPhones remotely in the event that they are stolen. Based on that, a new report claims that the number of stolen iPhones fell significantly in major cities around the world between September 2013, when Activation Lock was introduced, and one year later.

Take that, iCriminals!

In terms of specific numbers, there were 40 percent fewer iPhones stolen in Apple’s stomping ground of San Francisco during the period, while New York iPhone crime fell by a still-impressive 25 percent. The biggest drop, however, was in U.K. capital city London, where the number of iPhones stolen plummeted by 50 percent.

When you consider that 72.5 million iPhones sold over the holiday season alone, it’s possible to gauge just how significant a reduction this is — even if just a fraction of those iPhones end up stolen. To put the figure into greater context, though, consider that 1.6 million handheld devices were stolen in the U.S. in 2012. In California, smartphone thefts make up more than half of all crimes in cities such as San Francisco, Oakland, and others.

And having previously been responsible for making the most gorgeous (and therefore tempting) smartphones, Apple is being praised for leading the way with Activation Lock-style technology. While Samsung and Google have followed suit, Windows still hasn’t released an operating system with a kill switch — although it says that it will do so this year.

Source: Reuters