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Kill Switch Technology and Your Smartphone

In 2012, 1.6 Americans had their smartphones stolen. Almost one out of three robberies involves a smartphone, costing Americans $30 billion. There is even an expression to describe the theft of iPhones, iPads and iPods: Apple picking. Yet it is a crime that could be ended instantly.

It’s called a “kill switch.”

This new technology, which law enforcement officers across the country are urging Apple, Google, Samsung and Microsoft to devise, would render a stolen cell phone immediately and permanently disabled. That would kill the value of a stolen phone and destroy the black market.

In the meantime, there are ways to protect your smartphone:

  • Be wary in public. Most smartphones are stolen from distracted consumers, so limit use in public places. Don’t place a smartphone on your table at a restaurant where it can easily be snatched.
  • Always password protect your smartphone. Make it harder for thieves to access your data.
  • Write down your phone’s model, serial and unique device-identification numbers. Report these numbers to police and your carrier in the event of theft or loss. Check your owner’s manual to locate how to retrieve these numbers.
  • Turn your location app on. Police can recover stolen phones by tracking the GPS signal. The phone needs to be turned on to keep the app working. Although thieves often know how to eventually disengage the app, there is still a window of opportunity to find the phone.
  • Brick it. First report a stolen smartphone to the police, then call your carrier. Tell the carrier to disable, or brick, your device, which will lock it and prevent it from being activated, at least in the United States.

If you or a loved one is arrested on possession of stolen goods, contact experienced criminal defense attorneys for assistance.

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