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iCrime (Apple picking)

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

iCrime, also known as "Apple picking," is the theft of Apple devices such as iPhones, iPods and iPads. The crime also includes illegal acts associated with the thefts, which have included assault and murder. The motive for iCrime is usually profit -- a second-hand iPhone can yield $400.

Most incidents involve a quick grab and a clean get-away. Here's a common example: A thief approaches a device user sitting by the door of a subway car, snatches the device and exits just before the doors close. However, a significant number of thefts involve violence. Rolfe Winkler reported in the Wall Street Journal that when he chased the thief who had grabbed his date's iPad, the perpetrator got away and left him lying on the subway platform with a broken jaw. A 17-year-old boy in Toronto was attacked with a machete when he refused to hand over his device. In New York, chef Hwang Yang was walking home from a subway stop when he was shot and killed for his iPhone.

In a letter to major U.S. wireless carriers, a coalition of police chiefs from 70 metropolitan areas described the iCrime wave as an epidemic and requested the companies take action. New York City police commissioner Ray Kelly reported that as of July 2012, forty percent of all items stolen in the city were Apple devices.

Wireless providers in the U.S. are creating databases so that when a device is reported stolen it can be identified and refused service. However, devices sold outside of the U.S. could not be tracked through national blacklists. Another option being considered is to equip all devices with effective kill switches so that they can be remotely disabled if stolen. Police officials recommend that citizens should exercise caution when using Apple devices in public, just as they would with any valuable item a thief might want to steal.

This was last updated in August 2012

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I am not sure how this is any different than someone doing it with a purse or wallet (or sneakers back in the day). It's still just taking something of value's not "news" just because the they are Apple devices. All it takes is a little situational awareness.


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