Thefts in London involving smartphones have apparently declined by a whopping 50% since manufacturers began rolling out ‘kill switches’, which enable devices to be deactivated remotely and rendered completely useless.
Apple began implementing the system back in 2013, resulting in a drop in iPhone thefts by around 40% in San Francisco and 25% in New York. Samsung and Google have since followed suit and now authorities are seeing a noticeable decline in phones being nicked, owing to the fact that criminals are unable to turn a profit from their ill-gotten gains.
Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS doesn’t currently offer an equivalent system, but the company has confirmed plans to include one in a software update by year’s end.
Once a smartphone is reported as stolen, a manufacturer can send a signal to the hardware, wiping all personal data and locking the device so that it can’t be used again, even if a nefarious party tries to install new software.
London 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.”
Previously, our precious devices were viewed by thieves as a virtual wad of notes being waved around in public, making them the subject of thefts and often violent muggings. But finally, savvy thinking has begun to have an impact, leaving us more able to feel secure while using our devices out and about.
In the US things have begun to change too. Thefts have significantly dropped since the introduction of the tech, and soon a law will be implemented in California which requires that all new smartphones be fitted with the anti-theft technology, with other states expected to follow suit.
Whether or not our own government will decide to legislate in favour of kill switches on smartphones and tablets is anyone’s guess, but they certainly seem to work.