New Stolen Phone Database Having Little Effect on Thefts

Discussion in 'MacRumors.com News Discussion' started by MacRumors, May 2, 2013.

  1. macrumors bot

    MacRumors

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    A new national stolen phone database is having little effect on smartphone thefts in the U.S., according to an article in The New York Times. The country's four major carriers all contribute to the database, which lists stolen phone ID numbers that should not be activated on domestic networks. However, the database appears to be ineffective for several reasons.

    For one, the database has no effect on phones taken overseas, where many stolen phones end up. Second, the unique identifiers can be changed by organized theft rings. As a result, some law enforcement authorities have begun pressing smartphone manufacturers to build a kill switch into phones.
    The Times also compares smartphone theft to car theft, which has plummeted in recent years because of technological changes in automobiles that make them more difficult to steal and part out.

    Cynical observers note that Apple and other carriers financially benefit from phone theft because most victims buy another phone, though Apple has gone to some expense to develop the 'Find My iPhone' service and to encourage iPhone owners to activate the service during the setup process.

    Google does not include any such service in Android, though there are some third-party products that are similar to Apple's service.

    Article Link: New Stolen Phone Database Having Little Effect on Thefts
     
  2. macrumors regular

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    omnipresent
    #2
    What a surprise that Apple have no interest in stopping theft. My Iphone was taken to an Apple store after it was stolen and the phone was on the list. Apple did absolutely nothing even tho they knew stolen. Cheers Apple!
     
  3. macrumors 604

    bushido

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    #3
    well find my phone sure does not help if you lose it in a public place with every 2nd person having an iPhone
     
  4. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2010
    #4
    Would it be that difficult to integrate Apple's Find my Phone service with their activation network?

    IE if I have reported a phone as lost/stolen... that info should be pushed to the device even if it is wiped and tries to activate again.

    1. Phone is stolen
    2. I report it lost/stolen on find my phone
    3. Phone is wiped by theif
    4. Phone attempts to activate on a "fresh install".
    5. Apples activation server pushes the lost/stolen state that is still tied to that device.
    6. Location of the device is sent to find my iphone server

    I get that you could get around this, potentially with some jailbreaks etc... but for the most part isn't this 100% do-able?

    (Yes I do get that people could then legitmately sell their phone and then activate lost mode... but atleast in that situation you should have contact info of the seller vs not knowing who took your lost/stolen phone).
     
  5. macrumors 65816

    DTphonehome

    Joined:
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    Location:
    NYC
    #5
    I have no doubt that if Apple was so inclined, they could lock down stolen iPhones. I know it would require some time and effort on their part, but imagine what a great feature that would be: a virtually theftproof phone. Would certainly sway a lot of people thinking about going to Android.

    I do see the potential for abuse, but if Apple were to require confirmation from a police department in the form of a police report before locking a phone, it would be a pretty solid system.
     
  6. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2010
    #6
    How? You can still get the location of the device, ensure the passcode lock is in place and use lost mode to offer a reward/method for someone to return the device!
     
  7. macrumors 6502a

    SmileyBlast!

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2011
    #7
    It needs an un-erase-able id.
    Then once you report it stolen it should.
    Display a message.
    It should take a picture everytime it is picked up and email the pictures and its location on a map once and hour to the local police station.
     
  8. macrumors 6502a

    Mr Fusion

    Joined:
    May 7, 2007
    #8
    ... What sort of "kill switch" are they referring to here? If all it did was break the software thieves would find a way to get it back up and running. It'd need a self-destruct sequence like Mission: Impossible, but I don't think people want to carry bombs in their pocket.

    Am I missing something here? I only see ways to make it a little more difficult to re-sell, not impossible. And I don't think that would lower crime. :confused:
     
  9. macrumors 68000

    JarScott

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    #9
    Why not? You log into your Apple account and it only looks for devices listed under that account. It would ignore all other devices around, they wouldn't appear on the map.
     
  10. macrumors 68000

    spiderman0616

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2010
    #10
    This is a non-story. Find My iPhone is far better as far as anti-theft than anything anyone else has. You can lock, remote wipe, or send messages to your phone if it's stolen. What else does the New York Times want Apple to do, hire a police force to stop the thieves?

    The media coverage of Apple is becoming absolutely ridiculous. I'm almost ready to unfollow MacRumors just for giving this stupidity even more attention.
     
  11. macrumors 68000

    JarScott

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    #11
    To be honest, I've never quite understood Find My iPhone. Yes, it's very handy in tracking down where your iPhone is and exactly who has it and hell even following them home. But it's the "erase" feature that has me confused. The option to completely wipe the device, effectively restoring it to factory settings allowing the thief to sync it with their PC and have a fully functioning iPhone with little to no hassle...?
     
  12. macrumors 603

    roland.g

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    #12
    Restrictions need to be set so that Find my Phone settings in iCloud settings can be turned off by anyone with access to the phone.

    two reasons:

    anyone without a passcode can have this turned off by a thief or finder of lost phone.

    parents can use the feature to monitor kids whereabouts if the feature can be locked on.

    Also, Apple would be wise to portion the battery with a reserve so that a phone that has been turned off or is dead has an additional reserve that is useful for find my phone and remote wipe. Even if it cannot be remote wiped, a command could be sent to a stolen phone while it is off to remote wipe it, so that the command would be executed as soon as it was powered back up.
     
  13. macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 6, 2010
    #13
    No doubt, Apple is very easily capable of tracking lost phones or erasing them via IMEI or UDID or something

    But in order for them to do that, they would have to jump through a LOTTT of hoops .

    Think about it, the moment Apple tells you they are able to track your ever location through your imei, cue in everyone with 'i dont wanna use an iphone because apple can do that'

    That is just an example, I am sure there are a ton of laws preventing them from doing this
     
  14. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2012
    #14
    Remember how Apple found Steve Job's computers after one of his houses was robbed? This indicated they know how to crack down on theft, but they won't for us.
     
  15. macrumors 68000

    spiderman0616

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    #15
    EXACTLY MY POINT as far as media coverage. I believe Apple HAS tried enforcing this before and got nothing but flack from all the Apple haters, so they seem to have relaxed it recently. They're damned if they do, damned if they don't.

    People say Apple is no longer the underdog? I say BS. They are constantly treated by the media like they are irrelevant and "doomed". This has been going on for years. I wish so much that there was an easy way for them to go private so that at least we could get all the Wall Street BS out of the way, but I don't think it will happen anytime soon, if ever.
     
  16. macrumors 603

    roland.g

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    #16
    The erase function keeps your personal information out of someone else's hands, especially if you don't use a passcode. However, I agree that the remote wipe should render the phone effectively locked from use/reactivation.
     
  17. macrumors demi-god

    lostngone

    Joined:
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    Anchorage
    #17
    This is the carrier's maintained list, not an Apple list.
    If it was stolen and nothing was done how do you know it was taken to an Apple store?

    ----------

    If the IMEI and UDID can be changed how do they track them?
     
  18. macrumors 6502a

    kilcher

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    #18
    So does erase also remove the passcode?
     
  19. M-O
    macrumors 6502a

    M-O

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    #19
    i'm sure they have little interest in lawsuits that will pour in from people being accused of theft.
     
  20. macrumors newbie

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    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    #20
    I've personally had my iPhone stolen and the first thing the thief did was turn my phone off. I used the "find my iPhone" app for days and the thief never once turned the phone on when I checked, basically making the app useless.

    I think a 4 digit password should be entered every time you try to turn the phone off, this might buy you some time to actually put the "find my iPhone" app to use.

    Just a suggestion, but it could be effective in helping to stop amateur thieves.
     
  21. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2008
    #21
    I was wondering that myself. The Wi-Fi address should also be a permanent thing built into the phones hardware too, right? I didn't think some of those could be changed. There should be a hardware code that is not erasable and is trackable on all expensive smart devices.
     
  22. macrumors G5

    gnasher729

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2005
    #22
    And without your address, all your friends addresses, all the bank details that you left on your phone, and so on. Maybe private photos. For many people, the loss of the phone is less important than someone being able to read everything.
     
  23. M-O
    macrumors 6502a

    M-O

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    #23
    my data is way more valuable to me than my phone.
     
  24. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 18, 2009
    Location:
    California
    #24
    Sure there is more that can be done on Apple's end to secure these phones, but at the end of the day the problem is criminal behavior. As far as I'm concerned, this is a copout by big-city politicians for their failure to arrest and punish criminals (and for creating a criminal-friendly environment in their cities). George Gascon is DA of San Francisco, a sanctuary city that harbors illegal aliens. Illegal, non-citizens have more rights in SF than legal citizens. Try not paying a parking ticket in SF and see what happens, and you think politicians care if your iPhone is stolen? This sounds a lot like gun-control advocates blaming crime on gun manufacturers and inanimate objects, rather than the criminals that pull the trigger and the culture of non-judgmentalism that fosters criminal behavior. Don't hold your breath for politicians to actually take the tough steps necessary to reduce crime (stop-and-frisk being a notable and effective exception in NY). If you live in a big city and use an expensive mobile device in public, your chances of getting robbed and/or assaulted for it are high.
     
  25. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2011
    #25
    Imagine if you could remotely burn your phone to make it and all its components worthless - the incentive to steal the phone is removed and the risk of getting caught whilst stealing it is still there. Criminals would stand to gain nothing, and lose something. Yes, there would have to be a raft of security measures to make sure someone else cannot do this to your phone, and to make sure it doesn't happen accidentally, but if you have insurance on your possessions from theft then this really doesn't cost you a great deal - yes there is a very, very slim chance of you recovering your phone and no having to pay your premium, but it pales in comparison to the gain of removing the phone from circulation.

    You could even probably convince manufactures to incentivise burning the phone - one fewer phone in circulation and a guaranteed replacement phone is a win for the manufacturer, who make a discounted sale out of it, and a win for the consumer, who gets a swanky new phone at a smaller cost than they would have to pay to replace their stolen phone without such a scheme in place.
     

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