Smartphone thefts are down 40% in London, 22% in San Francisco and 16% in New York, while iPhone thefts, specifically, are down even further in each city, according to a press release from the New York attorney general’s office.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, London Mayor Boris Johnson and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón head the Secure Our Smartphones initiative, formed in June 2013, to lobby smartphone companies to introduce these features.
Major smartphone companies embraced the initiative reluctantly. When launching Secure Our Smartphones in 2013, Gascón said he had met with Apple executives and been “rebuffed.” CTIA-The Wireless Association, which represents wireless companies, said that a kill switch had serious risks, including vulnerability to hackers who could disable others’ phones.
Apple was then the first company to add a kill switch — called an Activation Lock — in September 2013 with iOS 7.
The feature is now standard across the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, released in September 2014. Google’s Android kill switch hit the markets in October, and Samsung Electronics added a similar feature in April.
Soon, all smartphones in the United States will have these features, as a California law passed in August will require all smartphones sold in the state to include kill switch technology, effectively requiring manufacturers to include the feature on all smartphones.
“The significant decrease in smartphone thefts since the implementation of kill-switch technology is no coincidence,” New York Police Commissioner William Bratton said in the press release.
“Restricting the marketability of stolen cell phones and electronic devices has a direct correlation to a reduction of associated crimes and violence.”