iPhones now involved in 14 percent of all NYC crime

The NYPD says Apple product resale values are so high that organized crime rings can't get enough of them. The force is asking pawnshops to keep electronic records of all iPhones they purchase.

Just so popular. Fox 5 screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Phone theft is big business.

However, in New York, iPhones and other Apple products are regarded as the ultimate heist.

As Fox 5 New York reports, the NYPD announced that there were 16,000 Apple-picking thefts in 2012. This equates to 14 percent of all New York City crime.

Indeed, 45 percent of all 2013 robberies in New York City involved cell phones. More than half involved iPhones.

New York News

The NYPD said it believes that these are not random thefts, but the work of organized criminal networks that know iPhones, in particular, have an excellent resale value.

Now the police and local politicians want all pawnbrokers to keep electronic records of every iPhone they buy.

As Gothamist reports, 700 pawnbrokers have signed up to support the initiative. Some, though, are resisting. The National Pawnbrokers Association claims that such a law would suggest that all its customers are thieves. Worse is that the initiative is an invasion of customer privacy, the NPA said.

"This amounts to nothing more than electronic stop-and-frisk," the NPA President Eric Modell told Gothamist.

Newly elected Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman want Apple and other manufacturers to take things a step further by forcing them to include kill-switches on every phone.

Companies have been reluctant to do this, as it carries privacy risks and leaves the technology vulnerable to outside interference.

Meanwhile, police in San Francisco, Calif., where almost 50 percent of thefts involve cell phones, are using undercover officers who pose as street salespeople in an attempt to catch the more-organized villains.

It seems, though, that the law can only do so much. My colleague Kent German has a comprehensive guide for what you can do to keep your phone as secure as possible. The onus may be on iPhone owners to keep their phones sufficiently out of sight to keep them safe.

No, that doesn't come naturally at all, does it?

 

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