Apple is tracking iPhones stolen from its stores
Apple is sending a clear message to people who’ve stolen iPhones from its stores: You’re “being tracked.”
The company is actively disabling the iPhones that are stolen from the displays of its retail stores, leaving them inoperable.
Screenshots of Apple’s warning message started to pop up on sites such as Twitter and Reddit earlier this week amid global protests following the death of George Floyd.
Apple stores, which recently started reopening across the United States after months of closures due to the global pandemic, reported vandalism and theft at several locations, including in New York, Philadelphia and Washington, DC.
“Please return to Apple Walnut Street,” read one message, referencing its Philadelphia location, posted to Twitter. “The device has been disabled and is being tracked. Local authorities will be alerted.”
Apple (AAPL) declined to comment on matters of security.
MarketWatch reached out to Apple to verify that looted iPhones have been disabled and that the company has begun tracking them.
A representative said that Apple doesn’t comment on matters of security, but he confirmed that demo devices taken illegally from Apple stores do bear warning messages like those being shared on social media.
It’s still unclear whether the company is doing this with stolen Apple laptops, tablets and watches, as well, or if someone who returns stolen property to the nearest store will face legal consequences.
But the tech company has certainly taken steps to prevent theft. As noted, Apple has been using proximity software since 2016 that disables any demo devices from working outside of the Apple store, except for responding to the “Find my iPhone” geolocation service that can track a lost or stolen device. So the company has the ability to disable and track any stolen device.