Smartphones are on the rise, and so are smartphone thefts. This is why prosecutors from San Francisco and New York have been talking to smartphone makers for nearly a year about thefts. One smartphone maker really listened and did something about it.

apple iphone theft

Apple’s new feature deters theft

After Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) implemented a kill switch feature inside the iPhone, police officers in both San Francisco and London noticed a significant decline in smartphone theft. The former saw a 38% decrease, while the latter saw a 24% decrease. These declines came after Apple’s implementation of the Activation Lock feature. In New York City, the number of robberies declined 9%, while grand larcenies fell 29%.

The Activation Lock feature came with iOS 7. It prompts users at the beginning to set a passcode the very first time they use iOS 7. Once that feature is enabled, it prevents phone thieves from reactivating the device, as it requires the initial owner’s Apple ID and password. This makes the phone virtually useless to the thief.

The pressure is on for other phone makers

Since Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) successfully complied with the government’s “Secure Our Smartphones Coalition,” officials now hope other tech companies will soon follow suit, including Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (LON:BC94) (KRX:0059935). This program was started a year ago by prosecutors Eric Schneiderman of New York and George Gascon of San Francisco.

Schneiderman and Gascon believe that Thursday’s report confirms that the “kill switch” feature is a solid solution for combating smartphone thefts. Gascon added that they must make sure these solutions are used in a manner that is more effective and does not require consumers to turn the feature on. He also mentioned that nearly the entire industry responded to this call for action, which means we are one step closer to ending this problem.

The fact that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) was the first company to respond to this issue with a solid solution speaks volumes about why the company remains in the lead in the U.S.