Stealing Apples: A New Crime Wave Threatens Tech-Savvy New Yorkers

By Eda Haksal 

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Courtesy: The Public Advocate’s Office, NY

 

New Yorkers have been enjoying a steady decline in crime rate over the last decade. In fact, last year, there was only one crime that prevented the overall crime rate to fall further down: “Apple Picking”- the theft of smartphones.

Apple picking is scarier than it sounds. The thieves stole 16,000 Apple products last year up 40 percent from the previous year. Cell phone theft is the fastest growing street crime in the city, contributing to the $30 billion resale market for lost or stolen smart phones. Robbers sometimes beat the smartphone users to get to their phones and occasionally use a gun or a knife to do so. New York City public officials are getting ready to tackle back this sweet sounding street crime.  

Last month, New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio became the highest-ranking NYC official to join the Secure Our Smartphones (S.O.S.) Initiative, created by Attorney General Schneiderman and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón to discourage theft and protect consumers as well as the community.

De Blasio believes in technological crime prevention to resolve this mounting problem from its source, propelling him to write a letter to the four biggest smartphone production companies. “Dear Mobile Manufacturers,” De Blasio adressed Apple, Samsung, Google, and Microsoft, urging them to “aggressively confront this trend here and now.”

Apple and Samsung took the initiate and began testing new security features in July. Apple has recently introduced a feature called Activation Lock, which starts working as soon as the phone’s user turns on “Find My iPhone” application for iOS 7 preventing any other user from accessing the phone.

As part of the new S.O.S. Initiative, De Blasio asks the manufacturers to offer these security features free of charge and help develop a safer community for New Yorkers.

 

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