Apple's Activation Lock drives iPhone thefts down 40% in San Francisco, 25% in New York

Posted:
in iPhone edited February 2015
Once a hot item for thieves and pickpockets, Apple's iPhone is becoming a significantly less attractive target as the company's Activation Lock prevents the devices from being easily wiped and re-sold, a new report indicates.

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In San Francisco, 40 percent fewer iPhones were stolen between Sept. 2013 and Sept. 2014, according to Reuters. The number dipped 25 percent in New York, and "smartphone thefts" were down 50 percent in London over the same period.

"We have made real progress in tackling the smartphone theft epidemic that was affecting many major cities just two years ago," London Mayor Boris Johnson said.

A similar report in June of last year showed thefts reduced by 38 percent in San Francisco and 24 percent in London. In New York, robberies and 'grand larcenies from a person' involving an iPhone dropped by 19 and 29 percent, respectively.

Apple introduced Activation Lock in iOS 7. The feature "locks" iOS devices with the owner's iCloud account credentials, and requires that they be authenticated with Apple before the device can be erased and set up again.

Activation Lock was the first commercially available "kill switch" for mobile operating systems, and similar features have since been implemented by Google and Samsung. California passed a law last August requiring that all smartphones sold in the state implement kill switches by July 2015, and an FCC panel in December recommended that the commission establish a similar nationwide framework, citing Activation Lock as model deterrent.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 54
    muppetrymuppetry Posts: 3,331member

    I guess theft rates will be depressed even further once it becomes more common knowledge that the stolen devices are useless.

  • Reply 2 of 54
    Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

    the stolen devices are useless.



    There’s always a parts market.

  • Reply 3 of 54
    Yeah the parts market will always be there... time for Apple to glue their things together so you can't take it apart without breaking, that should solve that scenario.
  • Reply 4 of 54
    muppetry wrote: »
    I guess theft rates will be depressed even further once it becomes more common knowledge that the stolen devices are useless.

    Let's not forget that it could be because Android is winning¡ I-Phones are so passé¡
  • Reply 5 of 54
    muppetrymuppetry Posts: 3,331member
    …<span style="line-height:1.4em;">the stolen devices are useless.</span>


    There’s always a parts market.

    I didn't consider that. I wonder how lucrative it is.
  • Reply 6 of 54
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismY View Post





    Let's not forget that it could be because Android is winning¡ I-Phones are so passé¡



    If people quit stealing any phone because they're useless, Android phones would be never be stolen.

  • Reply 7 of 54
    I'd assume used parts would sell for significantly less than an actual working phone. You can't use the mainboard with the CPU and NAND flash as that's locked to the account, so you'd have a used screen, used battery, maybe camera module and home/lock/volume buttons and vibration motor. And I guess the aluminum casing but the serial number is engraved on that.
  • Reply 8 of 54
    td912 wrote: »
    I'd assume used parts would sell for significantly less than an actual working phone. You can't use the mainboard with the CPU and NAND flash as that's locked to the account, so you'd have a used screen, used battery, maybe camera module and home/lock/volume buttons and vibration motor. And I guess the aluminum casing but the serial number is engraved on that.

    Exactly. A whole phone is much more valuable.

    Parts? Not so much. You can buy iPhone parts from a lot of places:

    https://www.ifixit.com/Store/iPhone/iPhone-5S

    While there may be places where you could sell stolen iPhone parts... it's certainly not as lucrative.

    It seems the would-be iPhone thieves have figured this out.
  • Reply 9 of 54
    To bad it doesn't actually work. My iPad was stolen right out of my car at the metreon garage and it's been pending erasure since November. Pretty sure the thieves just jail broke it, or decided to never take it online, and I'm still shit out of luck.
  • Reply 10 of 54
    muppetry wrote: »
    …<span style="line-height:1.4em;">the stolen devices are useless.</span>


    There’s always a parts market.

    I didn't consider that. I wonder how lucrative it is.

    if you look at eBay, a non-working phone is only worth a fraction of a working phone. Even then, an iPhone is usually worth about $100 more then a current model Android phone being sold for parts.
  • Reply 11 of 54
    These Numbers See impressive considering the massive year over year growth in installed iPhone base in those cities.
  • Reply 12 of 54
    misamisa Posts: 827member
    It's amazing that this wasn't done back in 2008. Oh well, nobody could predict then how hot it would be if it wasn't for the amount of iphone knockoffs China was putting out. That's where iPhone chopshops are going to spring up if anything. They'll find a way to write an unused serial number into the device eventually.

    I think the average thief is just too stupid to know better. You can do stuff like this with your desktop and laptop Apple devices as well. This was on the news today:
    http://www.langleytimes.com/news/291462301.html

    [QUOTE]
    Two men charged after app locates stolen computer
    posted Feb 10, 2015 at 4:00 PM

    Two Langley men in their 30s are facing theft charges after [B]a stolen iMac computer was tracked back to them through the ‘Find My iPhone’ app.[/B]

    The computer was stolen from a home in the 24900 block of 28 Ave. during a break-in on Jan. 16. A neighbour reported the break-in at the time and saw two men leaving the residence in a blue hatchback vehicle.

    On Feb. 7, the owner of the computer called police to say the iMac was now active and the “Find my iPhone” app indicated it was just west of Fraser Highway in the 259A Street area. Officers went to the area, found the residence closest to the mapped location and spoke with the occupant, said Langley RCMP Cpl. Holly Marks.

    As they conversed, two men were seen leaving through a basement suite door. One of the men was carrying an iMac computer in his hands.

    Both suspects were arrested and released to appear in court later in the year. Police will be recommending charges against a 36-year-old man and a 38-year-old man.[/QUOTE]
  • Reply 13 of 54
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,404member
    baconstang wrote: »

    If people quit stealing any phone because they're useless, Android phones would be never be stolen.

    Hint: That tiny upside down exclamation mark at the end of his post is the indicator for sarcasm.
  • Reply 14 of 54
    You've just got to watch out for this when selling your stuff, or buying something used.
  • Reply 15 of 54
    You've just got to watch out for this when selling your stuff, or buying something used.

    And that's why I never buy used.
  • Reply 16 of 54
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 5,013member
    I just like how the government is taking credit for the decline. Really CA had to pass a law they requires phones with kill switch, are we going to have a kill switch on everything we own since thieves will steal about anything which is now cemented into the ground, even then they will still try.
  • Reply 17 of 54
    maestro64 wrote: »
    I just like how the government is taking credit for the decline. Really CA had to pass a law they requires phones with kill switch, are we going to have a kill switch on everything we own since thieves will steal about anything which is now cemented into the ground, even then they will still try.

    If a politician isn't stealing credit for something they haven't done, they're probably stealing something else.
  • Reply 18 of 54
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 2,246member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Stolenpad View Post



    To bad it doesn't actually work. My iPad was stolen right out of my car at the metreon garage and it's been pending erasure since November. Pretty sure the thieves just jail broke it, or decided to never take it online, and I'm still shit out of luck.

     

    You can't jailbreak a iOS device without a password!  It's still locked down.   There's zero way to get around this.  If it was that simple Activation lock would be worthless.  Unless you were dumb enough to have no passwords on the device!!!  If it was locked, it's pretty worthless.  Maybe part it out.  You're not going to get much for a used screen and a few other parts.  More then likely it was tossed in the trash if it was locked.  

  • Reply 19 of 54
    "To bad it doesn't actually work. My iPad was stolen right out of my car at the metreon garage and it's been pending erasure since November. Pretty sure the thieves just jail broke it, or decided to never take it online, and I'm still shit out of luck."

    Most likely once they discover it was useless to them, they just pitched it into a dumpster. Then went on to steal something else.
  • Reply 20 of 54
    muppetry wrote: »
    I didn't consider that. I wonder how lucrative it is.
    Not likely very lucrative considering the significant drop in theft rates.
    stolenpad wrote: »
    To bad it doesn't actually work. My iPad was stolen right out of my car at the metreon garage and it's been pending erasure since November. Pretty sure the thieves just jail broke it, or decided to never take it online, and I'm still shit out of luck.
    No. They probably realized it was useless and dumped it or smashed it out of frustration. And you can't jailbreak a device that had Activation Lock.
    You've just got to watch out for this when selling your stuff, or buying something used.
    I find Activation Lock makes it safer. All you need to do is have the seller turn Find My iPhone off for you. If they can't, then stay away.


    On another note it's intetesting how certain sites are reporting this as "smartphone kill switches" reducing theft. Android doesn't have a kill switch.
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