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Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

This New Smartphone Feature Is Stopping Thieves

Feb 11, 2015

Smartphone theft has plummeted by double digits since manufacturers introduced a "kill switch" feature, enabling users to power down their stolen phones remotely, municipal officials announced on Tuesday.

Officials in New York and San Francisco simultaneously announced that the number of stolen iPhones reported to city police have plummeted by 40% and 25%, respectively, since Apple released a "kill switch" feature in 2013, Reuters reports. In London, smartphone theft rates were halved over the same period.

The numbers mark a continuous improvement over figures reported last June, as "kill switches" became a standard feature on new phones. Apple, AT&T, Google, Nokia and Samsung have signed an agreement to make anti-theft switches available on all phones manufactured after July 2015.

The announcement comes as lawmakers in California and several other states consider making "kill switches" a mandatory feature on all smartphones, in order to sap profits from the black market trade in stolen phones.

One tenth of all thefts in the U.S. involve a mobile device, according to survey statistics compiled by the FCC.

Read next: Apple Just Made This Huge Change to the App Store

PHOTOS: The Rise of Mobile Phones from 1916 to Today

A German field telephone station in the Aisne department of northern France during World War I.
1916 A German field telephone station in the Aisne department of northern France during World War I.Paul Thompson—FPG/Getty Images
A German field telephone station in the Aisne department of northern France during World War I.
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