NYPD 'Team of Cops' Track Stolen iPhones

ABC News
NYPD 'Team of Cops' Track Stolen iPhones
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NYPD 'Team of Cops' Track Stolen iPhones (ABC News)

Apple has become one of the most popular gadget brands in the world - not only in sales, but in theft. With iPhones, iPads and iPods stolen so often, New York City police have teamed up with Apple Inc. to combat these crimes directly, the New York Post reports.

The NYPD has designated a special "team of cops" to pursue the theft of mobile Apple devices like iPhones and iPads. With the use of a device's International Mobile Station Equipment Identity (IMSEI), it's possible for Apple to track the whereabouts of a device and then share that information with the police.

"We're looking for ways to find individuals who have stolen Apple products and return the products to their original owners," NYPD spokesman Paul Browne told the Post. "It is being done to learn the pattern [of] who is stealing." When reached by ABC News, Apple declined to comment on its involvement with the NYPD. The NYPD did not return ABC News' request for comment.

In one case a stolen iPad was tracked all the way to the Dominican Republic and recovered with the help of an NYPD intelligence cop assigned to Santo Domingo, according to the Post.

RELATED: iPhone Thefts: 'Apple Picking' on the Rise

The NYPD began Operation ID last September as an effort to encourage the public to register the serial numbers of their devices free of charge, ABC station WABC-TV reported.

"The theft of Apple phones and other hand-held devices drove the spike in robberies and larceny [in 2012]…Operation ID will help those whose property is lost or stolen to get it back," Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly told WABC. According to the NYPD, more criminals are targeting Apple products, and while overall crime is up 4 percent in New York City, Apple product crime is up 40 percent.

Because of the rising rate of theft, there is even risk involved in buying one of these devices second-hand. Police say they can and will confiscate any stolen and resold devices and return them to their rightful owners. With Apple's tracking system, it's even possible to find a device after it's been reregistered with a different wireless provider.

As reported by ABC News earlier this year, one creative New York man was able to reclaim his device without the help of the police or Apple. Nadav Nirenberg left his iPhone in a New York City cab and noticed the person who had assumed possession of the device was posting on his online dating profile. Nirenberg created a fake profile to set up a "date" with the person using his phone. The confrontation was not violent. Nirenberg got his phone back.

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