It seems like almost every day there is a news report that someone’s iPhone or iPad has been stolen. Most stories speak of opportunists who make off with someone’s unattended device. However, there are times when mobile devices are violently removed from their owners. In New York, mobile device-related crime is up so high that it has prompted Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to ask tech companies to do something about it.
According to Bloomberg, New York’s attorney general wrote a letter to Apple Inc., Google Inc., Microsoft Corp., and Samsung Electronics, asking what the companies are doing to combat theft.
“I seek to understand why companies that can develop sophisticated handheld electronics, such as the products manufactured by Apple, cannot also create technology to render stolen devices inoperable and thereby eliminate the expanding black market on which they are sold,” Schneiderman said in the letter to Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook.
Data from the New York Police Department shows that Apple products were stolen in 11,447 incidents from Jan. 1 to Sept. 23 of 2012. This is a 40 percent increase of related incidents from the same time the previous year.
Apple, Google, and other tech companies have in place the ability for users to wipe data from stolen devices. However, there doesn’t appear to be a way to completely disable a mobile device. Which is why Schneiderman believes these companies should be working on ways to deter theft. If an iPhone is completely unusable after a theft is reported, maybe there would be less of a reason to steal the device in the first place.
From various patent applications, it is obvious that Apple is working on creating more theft-proof features for iOS devices. We’ve heard of motion alarms, fingerprint verification, and even facial recognition as possible features we will see in the future.
Schneiderman does have a point though. If you can remotely wipe all of your personal data from you iPad, why can’t you remotely disable the device entirely? However, another question should come to mind in this situation. Why does New York have such a high crime problem that iOS device theft has risen by 40 percent in one year? What are police doing in that city to deter any kind of theft?