London joins NY and San Francisco in effort to stop smartphone thefts

London Mayor trying to get away from smartphone thieves

With the prevalence of smartphones in recent years handset theft has gone up significantly, especially in urban centres. To try and fight this trend public officials, law enforcements agents, and a plethora of other public workers have banded together in cities such as New York and San Francisco. And now you can add London to that list.

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson has signed the city up to the Secure our Smartphones (SOS) initiative that took roots in New York and San Francisco in the early part of the year. This initiative that brings together a large number of professionals is aimed at working with the smartphone manufacturers to create theft deterrents for smartphones.

In a press conference Johnson explained why London needs to be part of the SOS alliance:

Residents and visitors to our city need better protection from the menace of smartphone theft […] We need the industry to take this issue seriously and come up with a technical solution that can squash the illegal smartphone market that is fuelling this crime.

One of the initiatives supported by the SOS is the implementation of a “kill-switch” inside all smartphones that would render the device completely useless once activated. This is to deter theft by practically destroying the device once it has been stolen so that it can’t be resold.

The SOS alliance has already petitioned Apple, Microsoft, Google and Samsung to begin work on better ways to deter handset theft including the above mentioned kill switch.

Source: V3 | Image via The Guardian

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Here's a good idea

Biometric scanners in phones, scan a person's finger prints and logs them in, if anyone other than the registered owners wants to use the phone the owner of the phone has to give the other person a password which grants them limited access to the phone. The password needs to be entered in 30 secs.

If the correct password is not entered in the allocated time, then the phone zaps the users with a voltage equal to a tazer gun and bricks the phone. (Not to mention how funny it would be to see this happen to a chav)

Try stealing a phone now

To be honest though, in Boris Johnson's case I'd be more worried about the hair do getting nicked than the phone or bike lol

If anyone who's stolen a phone tries to lie about stealing it .... you could say that it would shockingly ring a few bells LOL see what I did there.

Edited by illage3, Aug 9 2013, 9:30am :

Sounds like Nokia's 'personal locked' phones in the 90s. When they studied people's unique walks and that every person indeed has a very unique walk... But the problem is, this varies under emotions and moods and is very unreliable and ended up locking people out of their own phones.

Don't brick the phone, recover it. If every person who buys a stolen phone got a knock on the door from the police I'm sure the market would dry up rather quickly and they'd get the ebay accounts or descriptions of the people who sold them and have some way of tracking down the thieves.

If google/apple log the IMEI number of phones with accounts used, not only would someone be able to look up the IMEI number of their stolen phone, the police could get a warrant for the details of the next person to register the phone and retrieve it. No address linked to google? No problem, get a warrant to turn on the GPS and find their home address. Or if that is too big brother-esque have the police email/phone the current user asking them to stop by the police station.

Do you expect the phone to be reliably shipped on your behalf? How is the address going to be obtained without a prior disclosure agreement? What if your not in and the package gets returned or moved, etc? Who actually holds the phone before it's shipped?

See how this balloons in terms of cost? It's easier to brick the phone and let the customer report it and claim it on their insurance. The aim is to stop the criminal from making a profit.

Just make is so that when a phone is stolen, it will be located and bricked using the IMEI, when it's reactivated. God knows why phone companies don't track this.

How is it still not solved? Every phone has an unique IMEI number, most phone-jackers don't have the tool and skill set to be able to hack this. And if its easily hackable, just give us IMEI 2.0 or something.
Stop giving them the ability to change a SIM card and be able to use the phone again
Police here doesn't even bother tracking IMEI numbers of stolen phones

Apple has this in iOS 7. Can't wipe or use the phone without putting in your Apple ID password. And if it does get wiped (eg dfu mode) it won't activate without a login either.

That's a valid point, I thought Bikes were classed as Motorists and were subject to the same laws? Does that cover phoning on the bike?

I just spoke to my Dad who's a police man, he says only certain rules apply to cyclists. Using a phone isn't one of them

aneutrino said,
yay yet another tabloid quality article. how is this news?

How is this not news? It's a huge tech story so please god don't bother us with your inane comments.