Apple and NYPD Team Up to Thwart Phone Thieves

The official police team that handles mobile phone theft in the city could help police identify organized phone theft and trafficking.

by / February 25, 2013

As the use of mobile devices increases so does the theft of such devices, so to help with their recovery, the New York Police Department (NYPD) is now working directly with Apple, according to Cooperation between the two entities has led to an official police team charged with tracking down stolen devices.

Victims of stolen iDevices can contact Apple with the device's tracking number, also known as a International Mobile Station Equipment Identity, with which the company is often able to track the device and send police to the device's location for retrieval. The team, said NYPD spokesman Paul Browne, hopes to detect a pattern that will lead police to the organized theft and sale of stolen mobile devices.

Part of the reason the city is taking the phone theft issue more seriously is because more than 40 percent of all robberies in New York City now involve cell phones, according to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Looking beyond the partnership between Apple and the NYPD, the wireless industry is also looking for ways to combat mobile device theft. The FCC announced new initiatives last year that would affect the four major cell phone carriers -- initiatives that would attempt to thwart device theft by creating a central database to track devices, encouraging users to lock phones with passwords, educating users on security issues, and promoting legislation that would criminalize tampering with hardware IDs on mobile phones.

The FCC has continued the fight against mobile device theft and trafficking, and a central database is expected to be available later this year, according to

Photo courtesy of Erika Cross /