Smartphones are the latest favorite target of street criminals, which seems a bit surprising considering that each contains a GPS that would make it easy for police to track them down — if they were so inclined. Cops aren’t, but maybe should be, given that a lot of the “Apple-picking” — so-called because many of the thefts involve Apple’s popular iPhone — has been accompanied by serious violence. Even if the original thief wasn’t caught, at least someone could be held accountable for the theft.
Something else could be done even more easily and cheaply to discourage cellphone theft — which according to a recent Associated Press report victimized 1.6 million Americans last year, to the tune of $30 billion. That would be to incorporate some kind of kill switch in cellphones that would allow manufacturers, service providers or maybe even consumers themselves to permanently disable a stolen phone. If thieves and black-market buyers knew stolen phones would be rendered useless, they’d surely stop stealing and buying them.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has been pushing cellphone makers to develop such technology, and he and San Francisco’s district attorney plan to meet with a handful of them next week to make their case. We can’t think of any good reasons why the companies wouldn’t want to cooperate.
Until then, smartphone users might want to consider becoming a little smarter (i.e. careful) about where and when they whip out their fancy portable minicomputers and pay a little more attention to their surroundings when talking.