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Looters find that iPhones stolen from Apple Stores are bricked

Published Jun 2nd, 2020 9:09PM EDT
Looting Apple Stores
Image: Alex Tai/SOPA Images/Shutterstock

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  • Looters over the past few days have hit a number of Apple retail stores.
  • iPhones and iPads stolen from Apple Stores have a kill-switch and are essentially bricked once leaving Apple’s Wi-Fi network.

The senseless killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police has sparked a wave of nationwide protests against racial inequality and police violence. In the wake of these protests, some cities have experienced a rash of looting and vandalism. Incidentally, there’s been a decent amount of evidence which suggests that much of the looting has been spurred on by opportunists looking to score free stuff and stir up trouble as opposed to peaceful protestors.

Amidst all the turmoil, some Apple retail stores over the past few days have been targeted and hit by looters. Some of the impacted locations include retail stores in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia. What’s worth noting, however, is that looters who manage to abscond with items like stolen iPhones and iPads quickly find out that their haul is worth next to nothing.

To this point, Apple over the years has implemented a number of security measures to deter would-be thieves from breaking into stores and stealing merchandise.

Forbes reports:

It has long been known that Apple operates some form of proximity software that disables a device when it is taken illegally from a store. Until now, though, little had been seen of that technology in action. Well, thanks to social media, we can now see the message that greets a looter powering up their new device: “This device has been disabled and is being tracked,” it says. “Local authorities will be alerted.”

We’ve previously reported that the iPhone and iPad demo units which line Apple retail stores are equipped with a “kill switch” that effectively brick the devices once they fall outside the range of Apple’s Wi-Fi network. Indeed, it’s why thieves who sometimes make out with hundreds of thousands of dollars in stolen Apple merchandise quickly find out that it’s worth nothing and can’t be resold.

If you missed it earlier, Tim Cook addressed the ongoing protests for racial justice via an internal memo sent to Apple employees over the weekend.

The letter reads in part:

At Apple, our mission has and always will be to create technology that empowers people to change the world for the better. We’ve always drawn strength from our diversity, welcomed people from every walk of life to our stores around the world, and strived to build an Apple that is inclusive of everyone.

But together, we must do more. Today, Apple is making donations to a number of groups, including the Equal Justice Initiative, a non-profit committed to challenging racial injustice, ending mass incarceration, and protecting the human rights of the most vulnerable people in American society. For the month of June, and in honor of the Juneteenth holiday, we’ll also be matching two-for-one all employee donations via Benevity.

To create change, we have to reexamine our own views and actions in light of a pain that is deeply felt but too often ignored. Issues of human dignity will not abide standing on the sidelines. To our colleagues in the Black community — we see you. You matter, your lives matter, and you are valued here at Apple.

Cook’s full remarks can be viewed over here.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.

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