Smartphone kill-switches put dent in crime figures

Three major cities worldwide announce drastic drops in handset thefts

Tags: Apple IncorporatedGoogle IncorporatedMicrosoft CorporationSamsung Electronics CompanyUSAUnited Kingdom
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Smartphone kill-switches put dent in crime figures Apple, Google and Samsung have already introduced kill-switch functionality to handsets. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
By  Stephen McBride Published  February 11, 2015

Smartphone theft has shown a decline in three major cities around the world following vendors' integration of kill-switch functions, Reuters reported.

According to statements from city officials New York saw a 25% decline and San Francisco a 40% drop, while London's snatch rate halved.

"We have made real progress in tackling the smartphone theft epidemic that was affecting many major cities just two years ago," said London Mayor Boris Johnson.

According to Reuters, Johnson, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon and New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman were significant voices in the call for laws making kill-switches mandatory for handset manufacturers.

"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," said Gascon.

According to the US National Consumers League, there were 1.6m handset thefts nationwide in 2012. In California, more than 50% of all crime in some cities involves the theft of a smartphone.

Apple, Samsung and Google have already included kill-switch tools on their handsets, and Microsoft is expected to follow suit this year.

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