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Boris Johnson writes to Apple, Google and Samsung for help with smartphone street thefts

09 Jul 2013
Boris Johnson at the Wayra Academy in London

London mayor Boris Johnson has written to major smartphone manufacturers, including Apple, Samsung and Google, asking for their help to curb the rise in street crime for high-end devices.

Johnson wants the manufacturers to bring their technical know-how to the forefront of the fight against crime by making it easier for devices to be rendered worthless if they are stolen by criminals from innocent members of the public.

Thefts of devices have risen massively in the past few years, with ‘theft from person’ offences rising by 12 percent in the last year and mobile phone thefts accounting for 75 percent of this increase. All in all 10,000 handsets are stolen every month in London.

In a letter sent to the firms listed above – as well as BlackBerry, Microsoft, Nokia, Sony Ericsson and HTC – Johnson and leading police officials in the capital demanded more action to help tackle the scourge of phone thefts.

"We need the companies who manufacture and supply smartphones to play their part and take this issue seriously," the letter read.

"If we are to deter theft and help prevent crimes that victimise your customers and the residents and visitors to our city, we need meaningful engagement from business and a clear demonstration that your company is serious about your corporate responsibility to help solve this problem."

The letter goes on to ask the companies to prove they are serious about security concerns by working with law enforcement agencies on the issue.

"Each of your companies promote the security of your devices, their software and information they hold, but we expect the same effort to go into hardware security so that we can make a stolen handset inoperable and so eliminate the illicit second-hand market in these products.

"We hope you would support this objective. Customers and shareholders surely deserve to know that business cannot and must not benefit directly from smartphone theft through sales of replacement devices."

Apple Inc, backberry, Samsumg, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Google- Motorola, HTC and Microsoft. - See more at:
Apple Inc, backberry, Samsumg, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Google- Motorola, HTC and Microsoft. - See more at:
Apple Inc, backberry, Samsumg, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Google- Motorola, HTC and Microsoft. - See more at:

V3 contacted several of the manufacturers listed for their response to the letter but had received no reply at the time of publication.

The demands from Johnson come after Apple, Google, Microsoft and Samsung were also asked to help clamp down on a rising tide of phone thefts in New York by the city's attorney general, Eric Schneiderman.

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Dan Worth

Dan Worth is the news editor for V3 having first joined the site as a reporter in November 2009. He specialises in a raft of areas including fixed and mobile telecoms, data protection, social media and government IT. Before joining V3 Dan covered communications technology, data handling and resilience in the emergency services sector on the BAPCO Journal

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