Skip to main content

Kill switch introduction leads to drop in smartphone thefts

Smartphone theft in some of the major cities in the UK and the US has declined dramatically, so say the authorities.

But it’s now because of improved law enforcement, it’s actually down to the manufacturers implementing a kill switch option, allowing smartphones to be deactivated remotely.

London saw a drop in smartphone thefts by 50 per cent, San Francisco by 40 per cent, and New York by 25 per cent, said authorities on Tuesday.

"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.

Senior politicians of these cities started a joint campaign back in 2013, asking manufacturers to introduce a kill switch to their devices, saying that tens of thousands of devices are being stolen every month.

Only in London, as the mayor said, 10,000 handsets are stolen every month.

Apple was the first to react, adding a ‘lock phone’ feature to its Find my iPhone (opens in new tab)app in 2013, followed by Microsoft and Google, who had announced, in July 2014, a similar feature.

California is currently working on a new law that would force manufacturers to implement a kill switch feature, an initiative which has gotten wide support from California prosecutors and law enforcement agencies.

"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 San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon.

Sead Fadilpašić is a freelance tech writer and journalist with more than 17 years experience writing technology-focussed news, blogs, whitepapers, reviews, and ebooks. And his work has featured in online media outlets from all over the world, including Al Jazeera Balkans (where he was a Multimedia Journalist), Crypto News, TechRadar Pro, and IT Pro Portal, where he has written news and features for over five years. Sead's experience also includes writing for inbound marketing, where he creates technology-based content for clients from London to Singapore. Sead is a HubSpot-certified content creator.