If you haven't heard, we're in the midst of a rampant and sometimes violent iPhone crime wave. In San Francisco, smartphone theft accounts for nearly half of all robberies in the city. Most of these are iPhones. In New York City, there were more than 11,000 thefts of Apple products - mostly iPhones - in just the first eight months of last year. This represented a 40% rise over 2011, far higher than the rise in other crimes.
Blow Up Your iPhone
Fortunately, I have a modest proposal for a simple and definitive solution to this problem: iPhones rigged to burst into flames or even explode. You steal my iPhone, it catches fire or blows up in your hand.
So go on, punk. Steal my iPhone. Let's see how many fingers you have come morning. Once word gets around, this problem will self correct in very short order. What better iPhone theft deterrent could there be than a city filled with petty criminals - all with stumps where a hand used to be?
Reasonably Priced Protection
The cost would be quite reasonable. Lithium ion batteries are already prone to radical overheating. If a flaming iphone that melts the thief's fingers isn't a strong enough deterrent, gunpowder is cheap, and could easily be engineered into the iPhone 6. Meanwhile, exploding cases could be built to retrofit older models. Look at it this way, what's another $50 or so for the privilege of having a true remote wipe feature?
True, the theft victim is still out an iPhone, but that was a foregone conclusion anyway. Within moments the thief had likely placed an "almost new" iPhone listing on eBay. But the former owner can focus instead on the joy of knowing that the criminal paid an even higher price for that no longer-working iPhone.
Help From Carriers And Smartphone Vendors?
Besides, as noted, once flaming iPhones become the standard, thefts will likely taper off very quickly. In the meantime, perhaps the mobile carriers would be willing to thank us for our help in stopping crime. No, they probably won't let you out of your contract - they're not crazy - but they might offer heroic vigilantes (nee victims) a free replacement device.
I wouldn't look to Apple for help, though. Despite the iPhone crime wave, the company has done precious little to protect the products so far, and that's not likely to change. After all, Apple actually benefits every time an iPhone is stolen - mostly likely the vic buys a replacement device at the full, non-subsidized price. What? Is Apple supposed to not sell you another iPhone?
My proposal has wider benefits as well. No doubt there would also be a radical drop in pickpocketing and other two-handed crimes. And wouldn't it be useful to have immediate, obvious evidence of who the thieves are? The police could quickly shift their focus to fighting more important crimes.
Now, some of you may object that flaming iPhones are dangerous. That the punishment doesn't fit the crime. That innocent people could get hurt.
Sure, fires are hard to control. But isn't that the point here?
And sure, losing a few fingers may seem harsh (it'll be hard to use a touch screen even on a legitimately purchased device), but anyone who's ever had an iPhone stolen probably wished for even worse things to happen to the thief.
Finally, if bystanders don't want to get hurt, they can just avoid standing by iPhone thieves. And just like gun owners are encouraged to lock up their firearms so kids don't get their hands on them, a little care should keep most of the little ones from using Mommy's iPhone to play games without telling her about it. If not, they'll figure it out when little Johnny down the street has to learn to bat left-handed at stickball.
In the end, what's a little collateral damage compared to making sure my iPhone is safe? Heck, if this takes off, you can bet that Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and the rest won't be far behind. Pretty soon the entire smartphone market will be exploding. That's a good thing, right?
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.