Crime data show iPhone ‘kill switch’ cuts thefts

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In this Aug. 27, 2012 photo, the Apple iPhone 4s, left, is displayed next to the Samsung Galaxy S III at a store in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

In this Aug. 27, 2012 photo, the Apple iPhone 4s, left, is displayed next to the Samsung Galaxy S III at a store in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New crime data show Apple’s addition of a “kill switch” to its iPhones last September has sharply reduced robberies and thefts, authorities said Thursday.

Their report from a year-old initiative called “Secure Our Smartphones” said Google and Microsoft will incorporate a kill switch into the next version of their operating systems on smartphones. The three systems — Android, iOS, and Windows Phone — are used in 97 percent of smartphones in the U.S.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, part of the initiative, said the data show crimes meanwhile surged against people carrying phones without switches intended to make them useless to thieves.

“The statistics released today illustrate the stunning effectiveness of kill switches, and the commitments of Google and Microsoft are giant steps toward consumer safety,” he said.

In New York City, robberies of Apple products fell 19 percent while grand larcenies dropped 29 percent in the first five months of 2014 compared with a year earlier, according to the report. Robberies and grand larcenies involving a Samsung smartphone, which didn’t have a kill switch during much of that time, rose more than 40 percent. Samsung introduced a kill switch in April.

Crime data from police in San Francisco and London, comparing the six months before Apple’s switch to the six months following, showed similar trends, according to the report.

In San Francisco, iPhone robberies declined 38 percent, while robberies of Samsung devices increased 12 percent.

In London, Apple thefts declined 24 percent, while Samsung thefts increased 3 percent.

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, also part of the initiative, said that the statistics prove that a technological solution to prevent theft was possible. He called for legislation “at all levels” to make anti-theft solutions mandatory.

“Compared to all of the cool things smartphones can do these days, this is not that advanced,” Gascon said. “I believe ending the victimization of millions of Americans is the coolest thing a smartphone can do.”

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