As the new iPhone5 has just hit the streets, the New York City Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly has boldly linked the 40 percent jump in the reported thefts of Apple products as the reason crime did not decline in New York this year.
In a speech delivered to the International Association of Police Chiefs Conference, Kelly noted, "Overall crime is up 4 percent. In the absence of the Apple thefts, we would be experiencing a decline."
The Commissioner noted the rise in thefts has forced the department to adopt new measures. On the day the iPhone 5 was launched, the NYPD sent officers to stores around New York to register serial numbers and contact details of owners in the event the phones were later stolen.
Kelly noted that in addition to other efforts designed to crack down on crime, the force will be adding undercover officers to patrol the subways where thefts of Apple gadgets often occur.
What does this Apple crime wave have to do with the rest of us? The advice Kelly provided in his speech applies to everyone with an Apple phone: register your device, use automatic shut-off technology to make the phone unusable, and consider installing a tracking system like Find My iPhone, that can help police track the location of your phone if it's taken on a joyride.
A 40 percent jump in crime is a staggering statistic and while it relates to the densely populated New York City area, it stands to reason that other cities and towns may have experienced more reported Apple thefts as the purchase and use of the gadgets are on the rise.
While Commissioner Kelly is the first to publicly come out in a speech regarding his city's crime statistics to Apple products, he's not the first to mention Apple as it relates to personal security. In 2005, the then-serving Commissioner of London's Metropolitan Police linked iPods to a rise in street crime, noting that the white headphones made it easy for robbers to target people and grab their devices.
Those comments lead to a good bit of general advice. In addition to using the technological arsenal built into or available for your Apple devices to track devices in case of theft, it's important for users to be on the alert.
In addition to the distinctive white color of most of the headphones, users are also targets because they can't generally hear if they are being followed or targeted. iPhone (and any smartphone) users also need to be aware of their surroundings while texting so they don't end up in dangerous situations — like staring down a bear or falling onto train tracks.
Sounds like the best advice for all of us, regardless of what device you are using is to register it, use anti-theft software and apps, and just be careful out there!