Police say iOS 7 Activation Lock is significantly reducing thefts of Apple products

Posted:
in iPhone edited June 2014
Law enforcement agencies in California and New York have reported a major drop in iPhone robberies over the first five months of 2014, a shift they attribute to Apple's new Activation Lock feature released as part of iOS 7 last fall.

iOS 7 Activation Lock

Activation Lock's crime drops impress cops

New York's Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced police data revealing a that iPhone robberies in San Francisco dropped by more than a third (38 percent), while New York City has seen robberies and 'grand larcenies from a person' involving an iPhone drop by 19 and 29 percent. In London, Apple-targeted thefts were down by 24 percent.

Schneiderman noted that "preliminary statistics following Apple's adoption of Activation Lock--the first kill switch commercially available in the United States--appear to validate the kill switch as an effective tool to deter smartphone crime."

While thefts of Apple products were down compared to rates prior to the release of Activation Lock, "thefts of other popular mobile devices increased," with New York reporting that "both robberies and grand larcenies from a person involving a Samsung smartphone, another popular device, increased by over 40 percent compared to the first five months of 2013," the group's report noted, adding "other cities experienced the same trend."

iOS 7 Activation Lock working to stop theft


A report by the Wall Street Journal said Schneiderman "cited anecdotal information from the New York Police Department that thieves find iPhones less attractive because of the kill switch."

SOS initiative targets smartphone thefts

Last summer, Schneiderman joined San Francisco's District Attorney George Gasc?n in launching an "Secure our Smartphones," an effort to fight back against "an epidemic of smartphone theft and related violence." The group has since gained support from London Mayor Boris Johnson and "a coalition of more than 100 elected leaders, attorneys general, consumer advocates, and top law enforcement officials from major cities."

In view of the alarming fact that "in 2013, a mobile device played a role in roughly half of all robberies in New York City, San Francisco, and London," the group began advocating that "wireless carriers, mobile device manufacturers and software developers" support the development of "kill switch" technology that could make stolen phones worthless to thieves, However, they found little support in the industry, with trade groups arguing against kill switch legislation as being "infeasible and unwise."

The SOS initiative reported its first milestone reached September 18, 2013, when "Apple unveiled 'Activation Lock,' a kill switch available on all iPhones running the newly released iOS 7 operating system. Prior to its introduction, critics claimed that an effective kill switch was beyond reach. Apple showed not only that a kill switch was possible, but made it available on the most popular mobile device in the market."

Police in New York immediately began advocating that iPhone users upgrade to iOS 7 for the security feature.



In May 2014, Minnesota became the first state to mandate a kill switch on all new smartphones sold by July 2015.

Samsung follows Apple with its own "Reactivation Lock"

In April, Samsung "rolled out its own kill switch, dubbed 'Reactivation Lock,' for certain new Verizon and U.S. Cellular 'Galaxy' devices," the report noted.

"Assuming Samsung makes the kill switch broadly available across all of its devices, and arms the application by default (rather than require a user to 'opt in' to use the application), Samsung thefts would be expected to experience a similar decline," the group addd.

However, Samsung says its Reactivation Lock "activates a special flag set in a secured memory storage area of the device," indicating that specially designed new hardware is required to activate the feature (which differs from the previous "LoJack" solution Samsung previously offered).

Reactivation Lock currently only works on Samsung's latest Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy S5 high end models, which are only a part of the company's premium phone segment that historically makes up about a third of the volume of smartphones Samsung sells.

Unlike iOS 7, which Apple supports on devices as old as 2010's iPhone 4, Samsung does not offer Reactivation Lock features to its previous generations of Galaxy Note and Galaxy S buyers. Additionally, while iOS 7 doesn't force users to use Activation Lock, Apple makes setting up the service as easy option that's integrated into the user's iCloud account setup. Samsung buries the feature as a setting users must find and configure on their own.

Samsung Reactivation Lock

Google, Microsoft offer to match last year's iOS 7 features with an update next year

To avoid losing all smartphone sales to iPhones in Minnesota and other states who impose kill switch laws, Google and Microsoft have also agreed to add an Activation Lock-like feature to "the next version of the Android operating system" and "the next release of its Windows Phone operating system," respectively.

However, while Apple updated virtually its entire installed base of iPhone users within just a few months to iOS 7, Google has only managed to push its Android 4.4 KitKat to less than a fifth of its installed base in the same time frame. Microsoft also has a poor track record in delivering updates to its installed base of previous smartphone buyers.

Google's own Nexus and Motorola-branded phones do not offer a built in kill switch mechanism similar to Apple's iOS 7 Activation Lock. However, Google isn't even offering Android 4.4 KitKat upgrades to its owners of modern devices like the Galaxy Nexus (which went on sale after iPhone 4S in late 2011), making it unlikely that a future version of Android with an Activation Lock feature will benefit many existing Android users.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 34

    Hilarious to see some of the stupid comments on other forums. Some claiming it has nothing to do with iOS 7 and everything to do with carriers now blocking IMEI numbers. Others say it's smartphone thefts that are down while completely ignoring the fact that devices were broken down by type (which is how they were able to show a reduction in iPhone thefts while also showing an increase in Samsung thefts).

     

    I still remember people saying this would do nothing because most iPhones are sold for parts. Now where are they hiding?

  • Reply 2 of 34
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,470member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post

     

    Hilarious to see some of the stupid comments on other forums. Some claiming it has nothing to do with iOS 7 and everything to do with carriers now blocking IMEI numbers. Others say it's smartphone thefts that are down while completely ignoring the fact that devices were broken down by type (which is how they were able to show a reduction in iPhone thefts while also showing an increase in Samsung thefts).

     

    I still remember people saying this would do nothing because most iPhones are sold for parts. Now where are they hiding?


     

    You will never be able to have a rational discussion with an iHater. Why even try?

  • Reply 3 of 34
    sestewartsestewart Posts: 102member

    Anyone else notice that the NYPD memo misspelled "available"? the pictures and format is great, but there's a typo right in the middle of the announcement. Someone failed to find the spell check. 

  • Reply 4 of 34
    oberpongooberpongo Posts: 135member
    Maybe it's because nobody wants an iPhone anymore. They rather steal androids. Because they are so much better :-)
  • Reply 5 of 34

    Apple Iphone share of stolen phone market drops!

  • Reply 6 of 34
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sestewart View Post

     

    Anyone else notice that the NYPD memo misspelled "available"? the pictures and format is great, but there's a typo right in the middle of the announcement. Someone failed to find the spell check. 


    Also nice 1990 Apple logo too.

  • Reply 7 of 34
    Apple - Activation Lock
    Samsung - [B][I]Re[/I][/B]activation Lock

    Haha
  • Reply 8 of 34
    freediverxfreediverx Posts: 1,408member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by oberpongo View Post



    Maybe it's because nobody wants an iPhone anymore. They rather steal androids. Because they are so much better :-)

     

     

    Samsung Galaxy S5 Misses Sales Targets, Disappoints Korean Securities Firms

    http://www.macobserver.com/tmo/article/samsung-galaxy-s5-misses-sales-targets-disappoints-korean-securities-firms

     

     

    Strong iPhone 5s sales sees Apple gain market share in Japan, Australia, UK, France & Spain

    http://************/2014/04/28/strong-iphone-5s-sales-sees-apple-gain-market-share-in-japan-australia-uk-france-spain/

     

     

    Apple's iPhone 5c 'failure flop' outsold Blackberry, Windows Phone and every Android flagship in Q4

    http://appleinsider.com/articles/14/03/22/apples-iphone-5c-failure-flop-outsold-blackberry-windows-phone-and-every-android-flagship-in-q4

     

     

    :D 

  • Reply 9 of 34
    jkichlinejkichline Posts: 1,336member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by alcstarheel View Post



    Apple - Activation Lock

    Samsung - Reactivation Lock



    Haha

    Creative geniuses there in Korea huh?

  • Reply 10 of 34
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

    Law enforcement agencies in California and New York have reported a major drop in iPhone robberies over the first five months of 2014, a shift they attribute to Apple's new Activation Lock feature released as part of iOS 7 last fall.

     

    Great!  So what about iPad thefts?

  • Reply 11 of 34
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member

    Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post

     

    Hilarious to see some of the stupid comments on other forums. Some claiming it has nothing to do with iOS 7 and everything to do with carriers now blocking IMEI numbers. Others say it's smartphone thefts that are down while completely ignoring the fact that devices were broken down by type (which is how they were able to show a reduction in iPhone thefts while also showing an increase in Samsung thefts).

     

    I still remember people saying this would do nothing because most iPhones are sold for parts. Now where are they hiding?




    Trollers gonna troll.

    Especially the paid ones.

  • Reply 12 of 34
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,985member
    Hilarious to see some of the stupid comments on other forums. Some claiming it has nothing to do with iOS 7 and everything to do with carriers now blocking IMEI numbers. Others say it's smartphone thefts that are down while completely ignoring the fact that devices were broken down by type (which is how they were able to show a reduction in iPhone thefts while also showing an increase in Samsung thefts).

    I still remember people saying this would do nothing because most iPhones are sold for parts. Now where are they hiding?

    Lots of people in hiding. Quite a few also said nobody wants to steal Samsungs. Attesting the drop in thefts of iPhones to one reason isn't smart. It's a combination of things, but whatever the reason it bodes well for iPhone owners.
  • Reply 13 of 34
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,215member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post

     

    Hilarious to see some of the stupid comments on other forums. Some claiming it has nothing to do with iOS 7 and everything to do with carriers now blocking IMEI numbers. 


     

    I would say that it does and does not have to do with both. SOME thefts might have been stanched by such measures as 'professional' thieves have found that they can't ebay etc the phone due to these tactics and public awareness that they exist. 

     

    But at the same time, I think they have little to do with it as well. With these measures in place there has also been a rise in media talking about the theft risk and folks could just be more careful about pulling out their phones willy nilly and giving opportunistic thieves the opportunity. Not to mention that the glow is starting to diminish and folks don't need to be messing with their phones every second and are emotionally okay with putting it in a pocket, so again its not out there to be stolen.

     

    So while there is correlation between the existence/creation of these measures and the drop in such crimes until we have actual interviews with former thieves telling us that the measures are the reason they stopped, we can't 100% guarantee casualty 

  • Reply 14 of 34
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,215member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Daniel Epstein View Post

     

    Apple Iphone share of stolen phone market drops!


     

    Mildly facetious but there is a good point in there. The percent of iPhones versus other brands or the whole is lowering due to the flooding of the market with tons of new Android etc models. So it's possible that some of the change in figures is merely due to whats out there to be stolen. 

  • Reply 15 of 34
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SockRolid View Post

     

     

    Great!  So what about iPad thefts?


     

    http://support.apple.com/kb/HT5818

     

    Any iOS device - not just phones.

  • Reply 16 of 34
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member

    Originally Posted by Cyberzombie View Post

     

     

    http://support.apple.com/kb/HT5818

     

    Any iOS device - not just phones.




    I meant "iPad theft statistics."  I would expect that iPad thefts have dropped along with iPhone thefts.

  • Reply 17 of 34
    freediverxfreediverx Posts: 1,408member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

     

    But at the same time, I think they have little to do with it as well. With these measures in place there has also been a rise in media talking about the theft risk and folks could just be more careful about pulling out their phones willy nilly and giving opportunistic thieves the opportunity.

     

    Not to mention that the glow is starting to diminish and folks don't need to be messing with their phones every second and are emotionally okay with putting it in a pocket, so again its not out there to be stolen.


     

    Shouldn't those factors affect all phones similarly within the same time period? Weren't Android users exposed to the same media talking about the risk of thefts? 

     

    If anything, given the time period in question was the "first 4 months of 2013 and 2014", shouldn't there have been more thefts of iPhones since Apple released shiny new models in December and presumably the buyers of those phones would be heavily engaged with them during the first few weeks and months of ownership?

     

    Meanwhile, Samsung's Galaxy S4 didn't come out until late April 2013, so wouldn't one expect those who owned previous models to have been less inclined to mess with their phones every second during that time period?

  • Reply 18 of 34
    nobodyynobodyy Posts: 377member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

     

    I would say that it does and does not have to do with both. SOME thefts might have been stanched by such measures as 'professional' thieves have found that they can't ebay etc the phone due to these tactics and public awareness that they exist. 

     

    But at the same time, I think they have little to do with it as well. With these measures in place there has also been a rise in media talking about the theft risk and folks could just be more careful about pulling out their phones willy nilly and giving opportunistic thieves the opportunity. Not to mention that the glow is starting to diminish and folks don't need to be messing with their phones every second and are emotionally okay with putting it in a pocket, so again its not out there to be stolen.

     

    So while there is correlation between the existence/creation of these measures and the drop in such crimes until we have actual interviews with former thieves telling us that the measures are the reason they stopped, we can't 100% guarantee casualty 


     

    I concur, there are more likely many other factors related to the decline. 

     

    But, there are a few things that throw me to think it's more than people just being safety conscious. First and foremost, people are using their phones more often than ever, more often than in the previous half decade and more than any other electronic device. Usage has drastically increased, and even though it may seem like less people have their phones out at a given time, it's more likely that we could have just habituated to that fact. The glow still exists because it's being perpetuated by usage - but devices like this will always glow for criminals as long as they retain their value so well.

    Second, just the comparison of thefts between other brands and Apple offers somewhat of a control for before and after Activation lock - it offers a little bit more room for assumption from the results.

     

    Of course, those are just two points - it'd be unfair to say that those back up the claim that Activation Lock is the sole deterrent of iOS theft without actually doing any introspective research, like you said. Either way, though, it looks like it's getting safer for iOS users in general ;)

  • Reply 19 of 34
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

     

     

    I would say that it does and does not have to do with both. SOME thefts might have been stanched by such measures as 'professional' thieves have found that they can't ebay etc the phone due to these tactics and public awareness that they exist. 

     

    So while there is correlation between the existence/creation of these measures and the drop in such crimes until we have actual interviews with former thieves telling us that the measures are the reason they stopped, we can't 100% guarantee casualty 


     

    Has nothing to do with whether thieves are "professional" or not. "Fences" are the ones who buy stolen goods from the crooks. When a "dumb" crook steals an iPhone, takes it to their "fence" to sell, and gets told they're worth half as much now due to Activation Lock, then that thief now knows they should move on to something else.

     

    This is how petty criminals work in every industry. They don't need to be "tech savvy" - they just need to know what items are in demand, and this is learned from what the "fences" will buy. Stolen cars are a perfect example of this. When a new "trick" comes out to get into a certain model of vehicle, thefts of that vehicle spike. When the problem is fixed, thefts quickly drop off. These crooks aren't mechanics - it's something they picked up from others. Word spreads quickly among thieves.

     

     

    No causality? So the fact that in the months leading up to iOS 7 thefts were higher, and in the months immediately following iOS 7 thefts went down means nothing? Perhaps you know of another event that happened at the exact same time that is the real cause for a sudden and drastic change in the number of iPhone thefts? And one that happened to see Samsung thefts rise over the same period? I'd bet $$$ that it's thieves becoming aware iPhones are less valuable and switching their targets to the other well-known brand, Samsung.

  • Reply 20 of 34
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,433member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SockRolid View Post

     

    I meant "iPad theft statistics."  I would expect that iPad thefts have dropped along with iPhone thefts.


    The police study is about smartphone thefts. Tablets were not included.

     

    I would venture to guess that iPad thefts are slightly down. There are fewer tablets overall though. One in five people on this planet has a smartphone. About one in seventeen has a tablet.

     

    Smartphones are easier to pilfer because they are used more in public and carried in conspicuous locations (hands, pockets, etc.). In transit, most tablets are carried in a purse, backpack, etc. and are thus harder for a thief to steal.

     

    Moreover, people travel with their smartphones far more often than their tablets. If you need to make a quick run to the grocery store, do you bring your smartphone, tablet, or both? My guess is that 99% of typical consumers would only bring their phone.

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