“iCrime” and “Apple picking.” They may be cute euphemisms, but the risk of theft is a very ugly reality for smartphone owners. Each year millions of handsets are stolen and sold on the black market for hundreds of dollars each. Smartphone theft is so lucrative, in fact, that it is estimated that nearly half of all robberies in the United States now involve mobile devices. Even more disturbing, these crimes are becoming increasingly violent, with more and more incidents involving victim injury and even death.
So, what can be done to curb a crime so profitable? First and foremost, users need to be cognizant of their behavior in regards to their phone. Remember the old adage “out of sight, out of mind?” This is great advice. If you wonder why it seems to be so easy for thieves to steal, just take a moment to view your surroundings through the eyes of a criminal. How many phones and tablets can you see right now that are nestled in open bags, displayed on belt clips, peaking out of back pockets and just resting on car seats, dashboards, desks and on tables in restaurants and coffee shops? Don’t be an easy target; secure your device.
Additionally, just as predicted, lowering the value of stolen items is proving to be a big deterrent to smartphone theft. Since adding a kill switch, or Activation Lock, to iOS 7 in September of 2013, iPhone theft in major cities is down up to 40%. The switch allows owners to completely deactivate their phone or tablet remotely, rendering it worthless. While Apple was first to introduce the feature, other major players such as Google’s Android and Samsung Electronics were quick to follow, rolling out their own kill switches just months later in 2014. A move that put each of them in front of the July 1, 2015 deadline for mandatory kill switch technology on all smartphones sold in the state of California as part of Senate Bill 962.
You can read more about the impact of this important new technology HERE. To see if your device comes equipped with a kill switch, or for information on how to activate the feature, check with your individual manufacturer.