back to article Cellphone kill switches kill cellphone snatchers

Smartphone thefts have declined by 50 per cent in San Francisco since 2013, and by 22 per cent since last year, a decline that District Attorney George Gascón attributes to the Smartphone Theft Prevention Act. The law, SB 962, signed by California Governor Jerry Brown in 2014 and implemented in 2015, requires smartphone …

  1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Simple and effective

    I'm surprised that Shin Bet haven't patented their cell phone kill switch method - it was even more effective.

    1. BebopWeBop

      Re: Simple and effective

      Well, they and others seem to have perfected the 'deliver a parcel' to mobile telephones that make Amazon drones look positively conservative.

      1. WolfFan Silver badge

        Re: Simple and effective

        The Russkies have in the past made very effective deliveries using very fast drones. Well, kinda drones, anyway. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dzhokhar_Dudayev

  2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    WTF?

    And elsewhere in the US?

    Or do the phone companies only switch on this functionality in SF?

    1. tfewster
      Facepalm

      Re: And elsewhere in the US?

      Apparently not in the UK: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-40731485

      "In the 12 months to the end of June, the Metropolitan Police logged 16,158 crimes involving powered-two-wheel vehicles compared with 5,145 the year before. Most of the offences were robbery and theft, with mobile phones making up 90% of items stolen. Phones can be reset within minutes and sold on, or used by gang members who like to have a handful of devices each."

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: And elsewhere in the US?

        To be fair, and this is Islington we're talking about, they mostly sell them as parts for repairing phones for the trendies who drop them whilst trying to drink their overpriced Upper Street cappufrotho or mass produced "Artisan" beer.

        Selling a complete phone, like selling a complete stolen car, is not worth the risk / reward ratio

        1. Stevie

          Re: And elsewhere in the US?

          "To be fair, and this is Islington we're talking about, they mostly sell them as parts for repairing phones for the trendies who drop them whilst trying to drink their overpriced Upper Street cappufrotho or mass produced "Artisan" beer.

          Selling a complete phone, like selling a complete stolen car, is not worth the risk / reward ratio"

          Any evidence whatsoever that anything in your missive is fact-based? If so, how about citations?

          1. Dr_N Silver badge

            Re: And elsewhere in the US?

            Stealing for spare parts is one of the Met's current theories and has been reported multiple times in the news media over the last few weeks WRT the moped crimewave.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    Cellphone kill switches kill cellphone snatchers...

    Adding two metal strips to the sides of the phone that can be remotely activated to put out 10Kv is what kills cellphone snatchers...

    1. David Roberts
      Alert

      Re: Cellphone kill switches kill cellphone snatchers...

      We would like to apologise for the minor bug in our latest "kill switch" software.

      We advise users to roll back to the previous version.

      Standing on a rubber block and wearing gloves.

      1. patrickstar

        Re: Cellphone kill switches kill cellphone snatchers...

        Rubber usually contains enough carbon that you can basically consider it a conductor at higher voltages...

        I'd be surprised if you could pack enough energy to actually kill someone in a cellphone though. Maybe you could tailor the waveform to cause ventricular fibrillation or something, but then people tend not to hold a cellphone with both hands so the current path isn't optimal.

        1. SpecialistGhost

          Re: Cellphone kill switches kill cellphone snatchers...

          Turn your phone sideways. Are you holding it with both hands? Just make the screen stay sideways during use and that should ensure both hands. Also a sensor to detect the top and bottom are being held. 4 metal strips. 2 for the top. 2 for the bottom. Complete the circuit and win a ride to the hospital!

    2. Tronald Dump
      Joke

      Re: Cellphone kill switches kill cellphone snatchers...

      Or solve the battery lasts only 1 day problem, genius

  4. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
    Holmes

    Other factors

    Like maybe the fact that there are so many cheap phones available on the market that aren't stolen so buyers have the choice.

    Or the fact that everyone already has a smartphone now, so the market for a hot one simply isn't there.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    and of course this kill switch will only ever be used for good.

  6. Starace
    Mushroom

    Doesn't seem to work does it?

    The number of phones still being stolen as a direct target - rather than for another reason like depriving someone of comms after a robbery - suggests these measures aren't much of a deterrent.

    For one thing even if the latest shiny gadget has been properly killed as a phone (which may or may not really work) it is still worth a lot of money as parts. Just stripping for screens and cases is more than enough profit, and probably better income and much lower risk than shifting the whole phone.

    It's not difficult to overcome this too but I suspect people would prefer to keep some tiny degree of repairability.

    (Icon for the best deterrent)

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No longer a deciding factor..

    Kill switches assume the phone will be re-used, but especially with iPhones that is far from certain - they're more often stolen for spare parts. According to some reports I read, a stolen iPhone is worth £50 in parts.

    1. Blotto Silver badge

      Re: No longer a deciding factor..

      i was wondering how much it would be worth.

      Is that £50 the thief would get or is that £50 the repairer would charge the customer for the bits? If the latter then parts from China/ebay/Amazon may well be cheaper

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No longer a deciding factor..

        Probably worth 50 pounds because the only parts they can use are the screen, the battery and the exterior. The rest - which holds most of the value - would simply be thrown out by the thieves.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    starts with a "good reason"

    and ends up being abused. Like putting cameras on every streetcorner and praising how it reduces crime (Berkeley). Then once its ubiquitous and accepted, comes the abuse by those in a position to gain profit, power or both. Wait and watch.

  9. JeffyPoooh
    Pint

    Good smartphones no longer need to expensive...

    Lovely Android phones are now relatively cheap. Asus ZenFone 3 was just offered (a sale) for Can$320, about US$260. Colleagues have decent Samsungs for Can$100-$200 range. Cheap as chips, nearly anyone can afford that.

    Less incentive to steal, when it's not "worth" $900.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022