Phone thefts in London halved by new kill switches

By Jay Jay

If Robin Hood was alive, he would be terribly dissappointed. If only he could steal those magnificent high-end smartphones from the well-to-dos and distribute them to the not so well-to-dos, the script would have been the stuff of legends.

However, things have changed. Leading smartphone makers are becoming increasingly wary of modern day well-meaning thieves, and also the not so well-meaning ones. The latter would apply to almost all of them. Since Apple introduced a kill switch to its devices in September 2013, phone thefts in London have gone down by a staggering 50 per cent in 2014.

Now other gadget makers are joining in, with Samsung introducing the feature in some of its devices, and Google introducing it in the Android operating system. Microsoft is also rumoured to introduce the feature to its phones in 2015.

The highly effective and secure kill switches allow phones to be switched off remotely once the owners discover that they have been stolen.

Speaking on the welcome reduction in smartphone thefts, Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, said, “We have made real progress in tackling the smartphone theft epidemic that was affecting many major cities just two years ago.”

Major cities across the pond have also witnessed remarkable decrease in smartphone thefts in 2014. San Francisco and New York saw the numbers go down by 40 per cent and 27 per cent respectively.

Law-makers in California are mulling a new law that will mandate the implementation of kill switches in all smartphones. Even though the law is yet to take effect, gadget makers have already started introducing the kill switches on the devices they sell.

George Gascon, the San Francisco District Attorney, said, “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.”

Touting Apple as a benchmark yet again, lawmakers in the US are pressuring other smartphone makers to keep the kill switches on active mode as a default feature. A similar move in the UK would be a welcome relief for high-end gadget users.

Time for Sherlock to mull a career switch, perhaps.

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