Apple has introduced a kill switch update to its mobile devices as a deterrent to thieves.
Known as "apple picking," in which criminals target individuals for their mobile devices, particularly iPhones and iPads, the act has become so prevalent in some cities that Apple has implanted an activation lock through its website.
The new feature will be part of iOS 7, the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system expected to roll out in the fall
, CNN reports.
If lost or stolen, the device owner will be able to disable it online, needing only their Apple ID and password, rendering it valueless to any thief looking to resell the product.
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In addition to acting as a theft deterrent, the user's data on the phone would also be preserved and not accessible to the thief, even if he has the sim card, according to CNN.
"We think this is going to be a really powerful theft deterrent," Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, said Monday in San Francisco while giving the keynote address at the annual Worldwide Developers Conference.
With Apple iPhones selling for upwards of $800, the small mobile device has become increasingly attractive to thieves in cities across the U.S.
In New York City, police have assembled a special unit just to combat such thefts.
According to NYC's Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne, the city's overall crime rate went up by 3 percent in 2012; however, "if you subtracted just the increase in Apple product thefts, we would have had an overall decrease in crime in New York."
In 2012, nearly half of robberies reported in San Francisco were related to smartphones.
When it comes to cell phone theft neither NYC nor San Francisco make the top five cities where the crime is most prevalent.
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According to the phone tracking app "lookout," Philadelphia, Pa., Seattle, Wash., Oakland, Calif., Long Beach, Calif., and Newark, N.J. are the U.S. cities where cell phone theft occurs most frequently.
In light of Apple's recent announcement, municipal officials such as New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has asked Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, and Google to also work alongside law enforcement in order to figure out additional means by which they can jointly combat the problem.
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