“The introduction of kill switches has clearly had an effect on the conduct of smartphone thieves,” said Schneiderman in an interview with the New York Times. “If these can be canceled like the equivalent of canceling a credit card, these are going to be the equivalent of stealing a paperweight.”
Measuring the six months before and after the release of Activation Lock, San Francisco police officers said that iPhone robberies fell 38 percent. Over the same period, London-based iPhone robberies dropped 24 percent.
Within the first five months of 2014, Apple-related robberies dropped 19 percent from the same period in 2013.
Theft has been on the rise since the introduction of smartphones, which offer thieves an easy way to pluck $200-$300 out of someone’s hand, erase the device, and re-sell it. In fact, the NYPD introduced an “Anti-Apple Picking” campaign in 2012 so that iPhone owners could register their devices in cast of theft.
But it would appear that the introduction of Activation Lock, which gives users the ability to remotely wipe or lock a device, has reversed the growth in smartphone-related thefts.
Apple isn’t the only company working on anti-theft measures in smartphones. The state of California recently passed a bill requiring anti-theft provisions on smartphones sold in the state, and Microsoft is currently working on its own system for Windows Phones.