Smartphone theft declines in San Francisco

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon last week released statistics showing a recent decline in smartphone thefts and robberies that he attributed to the implementation of kill-switch technology that allows victims to deactivate their stolen phones.

San Francisco recorded a 27 percent drop in cellphone robberies in 2014 compared to the previous year and a 40 percent drop in iPhone robberies over the same period, according to district attorney’s office spokesman Max Szabo.

In 2013, there were 2,368 smartphone robberies in San Francisco.

That number went down to 1,728 the next year, Szabo said.

The number of iPhone robberies in the city dropped from 1,559 to 936 over the same period, he said.

Officials with the Secure Our Smartphones initiative, co-chaired by Gascon, attributed the decline to the kill switch’s effect as a deterrent.

Robbery victims can deactivate their stolen phones, making the phones unusable and therefore decreasing the phone’s resale value on the black market.

Google, Apple and Samsung have implemented kill-switch technology on their phones and Microsoft has announced plans to do the same, according to Gascon.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill into law last year requiring all smartphones sold in California after July 1 of this year to be equipped with kill-switch technology.

The industry has stated that rather than developing phones specifically for California, they will implement the technology for all phones sold nationwide, according to Gascon.