One of the fastest growing street crimes in New York City today is mobile device theft with statistics showing it has jumped to 40% in 2012. This is why New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman wants answers as to why smartphone manufacturers haven’t come up with a solution for consumers to render their devices unusable once it is stolen. Early this year he sent a letter to the top smartphone manufacturers stating that “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.”
His letter might not have gotten any favorable response which is why he along with San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon have called representatives from Samsung, Apple, Google, Motorola, and Microsoft to a “smartphone summit” to be held in New York this June 13. The companies invited account for 90% of smartphone sales.
Both attorney generals essentially want a “kill switch “placed on devices that owners can activate to render it useless once it is stolen. This may lower the chances of smartphones being stolen since it can’t be used. Schneiderman said that “It’s time for manufacturers to be as innovative in solving this problem as they have been in designing devices that have reshaped how we live.”
Crimes involving mobile device theft have become increasingly violent lately. A woman was mugged earlier this month at gunpoint in Crown Heights for her android device. Last February a stabbing incident occurred at the Queens subway over an iPhone.
Samsung may just have a solution to reduce mobile device theft with their recent Samsung Galaxy S4 flagship model. This device comes with Absolute LoJack technology which is a software and a hardware solution. The hardware is built into the firmware of the device and cannot be removed even if a complete factory reset is made.
While the hardware is already in place the software part is still in development. Once it is finished owners of a stolen S4 will be able to remotely lock the device, wipe it clean, locate it, and have the Absolute Investigation and Recovery Services Team recover the device.