Study Says Anti-Theft Kill Switches in Smartphones Could Help American Consumers Save $2.6B Annually

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | April 2, 2014 3:49 PM EST

A research released by Creighton University has revealed that introducing an anti-theft kill switch feature in smartphones could eliminate phone thefts and help American consumers save $2.6B annually.

REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
Apple Inc CEO Tim Cook speaks about the new iPad Air and the iPad mini with Retnia display during an Apple event in San Francisco, California October 22, 2013.

Statistics professor William Duckworth said American smartphone owners spend $500 million per year replacing stolen phones and then another $2 billion purchasing premium cell phone insurance through wireless carriers.

If smartphones have the anti-theft kill switch technology feature, criminals would no longer have an incentive to steal them because the owners would immediately be able to disable them, Mr Duckworth said.

Mr Duckworth asked 1,200 smartphone owners what they think of the anti-theft kill switch technology feature. Majority liked and supported it.

"Overall, it seems clear that Americans want the kill switch and that an industry-wide implementation of the technology could significantly improve public safety and save consumers billions of dollars a year," Mr Duckworth said.

George Gascon, San Francisco District Attorney, said in June 2013 that smartphone theft has become a national epidemic because of the occurrence of rising violence.

"The theft of handheld devices is the fastest-growing street crime, and increasingly, incidents are turning violent," Eric Schneiderman, New York Attorney General, earlier said.

Mr Duckworth said that if the anti-theft kill switch technology feature is made available, half of smartphone owners would be able to reduce their insurance coverage from third parties like Apple or SquareTrade.

"If theft becomes a non-issue then only the most paranoid person would pay the extra money for premium insurance to cover theft," Huffington Post quoted Mr Duckworth.

According to Consumer Reports, there were 1.6 million phones stolen in the United States alone in 2012.

If successful, the anti-theft kill switch technology feature could be replicated in other parts of the world, most especially in countries where smartphone usage is high. At present, the technology is already implemented in the UK and Australia.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Robert Galbraith / )
Apple Inc CEO Tim Cook speaks about the new iPad Air and the iPad mini with Retnia display during an Apple event in San Francisco, California October 22, 2013.
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