Apple's new operating system makes it far more difficult to reprogram a stolen iPhone or iPad thanks to a feature called Activation Lock. In the event of loss or theft, the feature requires your Apple ID and password to reactivate the phone. Since most thieves aren't likely to have that information at hand, stolen iPhones should be effectively bricked, and therefore worth much less.

Police departments and law enforcement officials like anything that might make iPhone theft—now dubbed "Apple picking"—less lucrative. So they're calling on all iPhone and iPad users to upgrade to iOS 7 as soon as possible. New York City police officers were even passing out fliers this week on the subject, notices that spread quickly through Twitter.

A joint statement from San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón and New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman applauded Apple’s push to integrate additional security features. 

“While it is too early to tell if Activation Lock will be a comprehensive solution to the epidemic of ‘Apple Picking’ crimes that have victimized iPhone and iPad owners around the world, we believe it is a step forward and strongly urge iPhone users to download iOS 7, and most importantly, ensure they utilize both an Apple ID and Find My iPhone,” Schneiderman and Gascón said in a statement.

When Apple unveiled this feature unveiled at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference in June, the San Francisco Police Department hailed it as a breakthrough for deterring mobile thefts. Reports of stolen cellphones account for 50 percent of the SFPD’s robberies, according to CBS San Francisco.

Apple is clearly taking security threats seriously. The new iPhone 5S that debuted last week has a fingerprint scanner to protect your identity, in addition to the lock code function that most phones already use. The increased security protection will make it far more difficult for anyone to gain access to the iPhone, though many are already trying to find a way around it.

Photo via Daryn Barry, Flickr