Initiative takes aim at smartphone theft

Law enforcement officials from New York and San Francisco launched a nationwide campaign Thursday to curb smartphone theft with the help of the companies that make the coveted devices.

A Secure Our Smartphones Initiative led by New York State attorney general Eric Schneiderman and San Francisco district attorney George Gascon calls for thwarting theft with technology that renders stolen mobile phones useless.

"The epidemic of violent street crime involving the theft and resale of mobile devices is a very real and growing threat in communities all across America," Schneiderman said in a release.

"This nationwide coalition of leaders is committed to doing everything in our power to encourage industry to be good corporate citizens and take responsible steps to ensure the safety of our consumers."

He cited reports indicating that smartphones are stolen or lost at a rate of about 113 per minute in the United States, with thieves sometimes using violence.

The initiative was announced here at a Smart Phone Summit being attended by technology titans Apple, Google, Samsung and Microsoft.

On Monday, Apple unveiled the next-generation of software that powers iPhones, iPads, and iPod touch devices.

It will include an "Activation Lock" feature that renders devices inoperable if someone without the owner's Apple ID tries to wipe devices or turn off a gadget-finding tool.

"We think this is going to be a really powerful theft deterrent," Apple senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi said during a presentation that kicked off the company's annual developers conference.