While Activation Lock has dramatically reduced iPhone thefts in some cities, with reductions as high as 50%, police data collated by the WSJ shows that the effect isn’t as great as expected in others. iPhone thefts fell by only 11% in Oakland, by 17% in Austin and actually increased by 32% in Seattle … 

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, who was a strong advocate for smartphone ‘kill switches,’ says that thieves may still think it worthwhile to take a chance as older iPhones are not locked by default, and there may still be a market for bricked phones for parts – or those who think they can defeat the lock. There have been eBay auctions where locked phones are sold, including one where the owner’s details were displayed!

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NYPD said last year that almost a fifth of all grand larcenies in NYC involved Apple products. In Seattle, Sgt. Verner O’Quin said that many people lack awareness of the risk of smartphone theft.

You wouldn’t walk around downtown Seattle with $500 in your hand, tripping over curbs, but you’ll carry a phone at 2 in the morning—maybe you’re drunk—and think no one’s tempted.

Apple introduced Activation Lock as part of iOS 7, and switched it on by default in iOS 8.

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About the Author

Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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