NEW YORK—As Apple products like the iPhone and iPad continue to grow in popularity, they also continue to be a hotter target for thieves.
Apple device thefts represent 40 percent of all grand larcenies this year, up 37 percent from last year, according to testimony by New York Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner Raymond Kelly. He added that 27 percent of all robberies involve Apple products, up from 23 percent last year.
“The ever-increasing supply of these products on the market will pose a constant challenge,” Kelly said.
In February the NYPD created a task force to help curb the thefts. Kelly said the measures include adding more officers to the transit system, conducting decoy operations, enlisting cellphone carriers to permanently disable a phone once it has been stolen, and implementing a widespread campaign with the public to register phones.
“We are looking for the way to disable a phone once it is stolen. We have not come to that point yet with Apple, but they know what we want,” Kelly said.
Kelly said they have been in talks with Apple for roughly two months on ways to improve the subpoena process and the ability to track stolen phones with the company’s data.
Kelly reported he would like to see increased cooperation with getting subpoenaed information, such as if the phone is being used, where it is located, and if it has been re-registered, to help the NYPD identify stolen phones. He said Apple has been responsive, but not as quickly as they need.
Queens City Council member Peter Vallone Jr., who chairs the Committee on Finance and Public Safety, is frustrated with the lack of cooperation from the cellphone companies.
“I can’t imagine these companies, that can pinpoint your location anywhere in the world, can’t figure out a way to turn off service on a cell phone,” Vallone said.
He said in his Queens district the problem is more prevalent due to the aboveground subway service. Subway riders take out their cellphones while waiting on the platform, enticing criminals with easy access to their devices. Thieves are also targeting people using their devices near subway doors, snatching the iPhones or iPads seconds before the doors close, leaving the victim unable to give chase.
Cellphone and wireless access now available in 36 of New York City’s busiest subway stations, with more planned this year, will mean the thieves will have even more access to exposed cellphones.
Vallone told Commissioner Kelly that City Council would do whatever it could to pass any helpful legislation, but it was too early to tell what that legislation would be.