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Crime Data Shows iPhone ‘Kill Switch’ Cuts Thefts

A woman users her cellphone. (credit: Getty Images)

A woman users her cellphone. (credit: Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – New crime data shows Apple’s addition of a “kill switch” to its iPhones last September has sharply reduced robberies and thefts, authorities said Thursday.

Their report from a year-old initiative called “Secure Our Smartphones” said Google and Microsoft will incorporate a kill switch into the next version of their operating systems on smartphones.

The three systems, Android, iOS, and Windows Phone, are used in 97 percent of smartphones in the U.S.

Crime Data Shows iPhone 'Kill Switch' Cuts Thefts

smartphone625 Crime Data Shows iPhone Kill Switch Cuts Thefts
Peter Haskell reports

Meanwhile, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said the data shows crimes surged against people carrying phones without switches intended to make them useless to thieves.

“The statistics released today illustrate the stunning effectiveness of kill switches, and the commitments of Google and Microsoft are giant steps toward consumer safety,” he said.

“We are moving towards the day when these technologies will be installed on an opt-out basis,” Schneiderman said, WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported.

In New York City, robberies of Apple products fell 19 percent while grand larcenies dropped 29 percent in the first five months of 2014 compared with a year earlier, according to the report.

Robberies and grand larcenies involving a Samsung smartphone, which didn’t have a kill switch during much of that time, rose more than 40 percent. Samsung introduced a kill switch in April.

Crime data from police in San Francisco and London, comparing the six months before Apple’s switch to the six months following, showed similar trends, according to the report.

Crime Data Shows iPhone 'Kill Switch' Cuts Thefts

iphone 5 big dl Crime Data Shows iPhone Kill Switch Cuts Thefts
Paul Murnane reports

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said that the statistics prove that a technological solution to prevent theft was possible. He called for legislation “at all levels” to make anti-theft solutions mandatory.

“Compared to all of the cool things smartphones can do these days, this is not that advanced,” Gascon said. “I believe ending the victimization of millions of Americans is the coolest thing a smartphone can do.”

But Mike Gikas, senior electronics editor for Consumer Reports, said steps are needed to enable the kill switch.

“It requires the phone owner to take some pro-active steps, put it on, activate it,” he told WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane. “It’s not automatically built into the phone and it doesn’t give you out-of-the box protection.”

Gikas said the technology should be transparent for the consumer.

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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)