Common sense is your best defense against Apple Watch thieves

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Photo: Apple
Police and security experts recommend being aware of your surroundings when interacting with your new Apple Watch. Photo: Apple

When you hold up your wrist to admire your new Apple Watch, the shiny new device might also catch the eye of an opportunistic thief.

Police and security experts are urging common sense and awareness of surroundings when interacting in public with the new smartwatch, which will begin arriving on doorsteps and adorning wrists Friday.

Regardless of security measures on computing power of the Apple Watch, the 18-karat model could still be of interest to thieves. Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac
Regardless of security measures on computing power of the Apple Watch, the 18-karat model could still be of interest to thieves. Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

A spike in thefts seems to accompany each new wave of technology. But mobile manufacturers were pressured to install kill-switch technology, making hot devices harder for criminals to sell, and the move has been credited with a drop in swiped smartphones.

With the Apple Watch being the latest must-have gadget, police and techies wonder whether the watch will have similar security measures that would render a stolen watch virtually worthless. Concerned Apple fans have been discussing the situation on reddit, noting that AppleCare doesn’t cover theft.

Apple has assured buyers the watch will not work once it senses it has been removed from its owner’s wrist.

“There may be an initial wave of thefts because it’s new or attractive,” Frank Scafidi, spokesman for the National Insurance Crime Bureau, told MarketWatch. “But these thefts will eventually subside once word gets out that the Apple Watch is not going to work and, at least in some cases, will only make a nice paperweight.”

Then there’s the Apple Watch Edition — the $10,000, 18-karat gold version that could be attractive to thieves regardless of whether it’s functional.

One San Francisco blogger was bold enough to predict a gold Apple Watch will be stolen in his city by June.

“I don’t care what security features your multi-thousand dollar gold iWatch has,” wrote San Francisco Citizen in February. “There’s nothing stopping somebody from taking your shiny (watch) and then melting it down to sell the gold for $1,0000 an ounce.”

San Francisco police say beware of the possibility that someone could be watching for people glancing at their wrists in the days following the Apple Watch launch.

“Criminals will be looking for this device so, like with any new tech, use common sense,” San Francisco police officer Albie Esparza told Cult of Mac. “Criminals might now know about enhanced security features. They’re just opportunistic. Just be aware of your surroundings.”

An app providing an impenetrable force field around an Apple Watch owner is probably a few generations away. For now, analog smarts for your smartwatch may be the most important function.