New York City Ripe For ‘Apple Picking’
Except for 16,000 iPhone and iPad thefts, crime would have gone down in New York City last year. Instead “Apple picking”, as stealing Apple products is sometimes referred to, rose by 40 percent in 2012, driving an increase in robberies.
“[Stolen] electronics is still a hot topic,” said Deputy Inspector Stephen Cirabisi, commanding officer of the 114th Police Precinct at the October 22 precinct community council meeting held at Riccardo’s. “[Elected officials] are trying to [encourage] companies to do something to make these products secure.”
In an October 21 press conference, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said 1.6 million Americans were victims of smart phone theft last year. “[Smart phones] are too easy to steal, too easy to clean and too easy to resell,” he said, estimating $30 billion is spent annually replacing lost and stolen smart phones nationwide. “It’s a national epidemic that can only be dealt with by an industry wide decision to include kill switches that can be cancelled like your credit card.”
The kill switch renders stolen devices inoperable on any network worldwide, eliminating the ability for phone reactivation.
Schneiderman also announced Public Advocate Bill de Blasio has joined the Secure Our Smartphones (SOS) initiative, a coalition of law enforcement leaders, legislators and consumer advocates that Schneiderman helped begin last June.
“I’m glad that Public Advocate de Blasio has joined the global effort to protect consumers by demanding that smart phone manufacturers find a way to make sure that stolen devices cannot be sold in lucrative secondary markets around the world, thereby eliminating the perverse incentives that put so many of our community at risk,” he said.
Sophisticated fencing operations across the country and internationally bring as much as $2,000 for stolen smart phones.
In letters to the CEOs of Apple, Samsung, Motorola and Microsoft, estimated to control 90 percent of the $69 billion smart phone market, de Blasio said mobile device thefts often occur “at the point of a knife or gun” and kill switches are needed to deter thefts and enhance safety.
“We deeply appreciate what the NYPD has done already, in terms of enforcement and in terms of education and warnings [to prevent thefts] but the bottom line is the police are fighting an uphill battle if phones valued at hundreds of dollars each are so readily available and can so easily be resold by criminals,” said de Blasio.
The new iOS7 software Apple released in September features an activation lock that can disable an iPhone even after a thief turns it off or erases its data. The phone can only be reactivated after the user logs in with the correct Apple ID and password.
State Senator Jeff Klein and Assemblymember Jeff Dinowitz, both of The Bronx, have also introduced a bill to make it illegal for any business in New York to buy or sell a used smart phone without proof of legitimate ownership. They announced the bill on October 18 at the corner of 232nd Street and Cambridge Avenue in Riverdale, where a 26-year old chef, Hwang Yang, was murdered and robbed of his cellphone last April.
Police Officers Kimberly Washington and Ronald Robinson were recipients of Cop-of-the- Month for September.
Washington and Robinson are both members of the precinct anti-crime team and on September 25, Washington was working the midnight shift in plain clothes in the vicinity of 21st Street and 21st Avenue, where a rash of motorcycle thefts had occurred.
“P.O. Washington responded to a 911 call of suspicious activity and with a description of the suspects conducted an area canvass,” said Cirabisi. “She then spotted two individuals on mopeds and stopped them,” he said. One moped was stolen and the other was without license plates. Both men were arrested.
Robinson was working the day anti-crime shift on September 4 in the area of 42nd Street and 22nd Avenue, where a burglary pattern had been going on. Based on video the police had obtained, Robinson identified a suspect and conducted surveillance that lead to his arrest on four counts of burglary.
“The burglaries have subsided,” said Cirabisi.