Police Want Kill Switches To Help Prevent Phone Theft

Smart phone theft has reached such epidemic proportions in the United States that law enforcement officials and consumer groups are hoping to convince phone manufacturers to build in "kill switches" to brick the phone if it's stolen to reduce the rate of theft.

While some crimes are on the decline, phone theft is not one of them. San Francisco reports that 50% of all robberies involved a handset of some kind and New York reports that phone theft has jumped 40% and is 20% of all robberies. Law enforcement believes that if the thieves knew the phone would be useless they would not try to steal them.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said the technology for a kill switch already exists but getting manufacturers and providers to go along with the idea has not been successful. San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said he met with Apple a year ago about the idea but was told it wouldn't happen.

One of the reasons for this may be that the phone manufacturers are working on their own version of "kill switches". Recently, Apple unveiled a new feature that'll be part of iOS 7 called Activation Lock. This security feature is said to prevent a thief from reactivating a phone as they would need to know your Apple ID and password. Even if they turn off Find My iPhone and wipe the handset, they still won't be able to reactive it.

Another reason could be that people are not really comfortable with the idea of destroying their phone if stolen as they probably hope there is a chance they will get it back. The odds of getting a phone back after it is stolen is almost zero, so perhaps the companies need to inform consumers on more ways to prevent cell phone theft in the first place.