Apple to iPhone looters: You are being tracked
The riots erupting in the wake of George Floyd's brutal killing has spelled trouble for not just peaceful civilians but also some of the biggest businesses in the US. Several high-end stores have been vandalized and looted, including those recently re-opened by Apple. But, the good news is, the Cupertino giant is taking a unique approach towards catching all the culprits. Here's how.
Stores closed across several cities in the US
When mass protests started turning violent in major US cities, Apple, which had just re-opened its stores after a two-month-long COVID-19 shutdown, ordered another shutdown. The move, aimed at protecting store staff and customers, was also paired with the decision to remove iPhones, iPads, Macs, and other valuable Apple products from all shop floors as soon as possible.
Still, attacks took place, devices were looted
Despite Apple's decision, looters capitalizing on the violent demonstrations got a chance to attack its stores across Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Washington DC, and Philadelphia. Several devices on display at the time were stolen, owing to the high market value of Apple products. Notably, a number of videos and photos showing the looters in action also surfaced online.
But, there is a little surprise for the looters
While most stores use cameras and security alarms to flag theft attempts, Apple has long been rumored to be using some sort of proximity technology to keep its display products secure. No one knew what it looked like or how it worked but when the attacks occurred last week, the system came into action and started warning the looters that they were being tracked.
Apparently, it triggers when a boxed unit is moved illegally
While there is no way to be sure, the tweets showing the system indicate that the proximity software on boxed iPhones triggers when the device is illegally moved from its designated place - the retail store. So, when the device is powered on, the system automatically disables it and starts tracking its location to help authorities retrieve it.
Here's the message the disabled iPhone shows to the looter
"Please return to Apple (store name). This device has been disabled and is being tracked. Local authorities will be alerted."
Will this recover all looted devices?
That being said, it is highly unlikely that the stolen iPhones will be returned. They will probably be stripped for parts for black market sale or directly dumped over tracking fears. But, the show of this anti-theft system would certainly scare off other people motivated to loot Apple Stores during the ongoing riots and protests across the US.