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article imageDramatic fall in phone theft as kill switches installed

By James Walker     Feb 11, 2015 in Technology
Smartphone thefts have fallen dramatically in three major cities across the world after manufacturers began adding remote "kill switches" so users can disable stolen devices, according to reports.
Reuters reports that San Francisco has seen a 40 percent fall in the number of stolen Apple iPhone devices between September 2013 and September 2014. September 2013 was the month that iOS received kill switch functionality.
A 25 percent fall was also noticed in New York. It was London that saw the greatest drop though.
Britain's capital reported 50 percent fewer thefts in the same period according to a joint announcement by authorities in the three cities. Mayor Boris Johnson said "We have made real progress in tackling the smartphone theft epidemic that was affecting many major cities just two years ago."
San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon added "The wireless industry continues to roll out sophisticated new features, but preventing their own customers from being the target of a violent crime is the coolest technology they can bring to market."
Kill switches enable users to remotely disable their devices online, making them unusable after a theft. Now available on all major smartphone platforms, users can normally lock devices or view their location on a map. Alternatively, all data can be erased and the phone reset as a last resort.
Clearly, such functionality does deter thieves from acting though, adding to support for laws being considered in some areas, such as California, that would require all phones to be fitted with kill switches.
Smartphone thefts account for over half of all crimes in several US cities — formerly including San Francisco — and as such is a major issue affecting vast numbers of people. 1.6 million Americans were a victim of phone thieves during 2012.
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