The new Activation Lock feature introduced in iOS 7 has decreased iPhone theft by 25% in New York, 40% in San Francisco, and 50% in London, reports Reuters.

The number of stolen iPhones dropped by 40 percent in San Francisco and 25 percent in New York in the 12 months after Apple Inc added a kill switch to its devices in September 2013. In London, smartphone theft dropped by half, according to an announcement by officials in the three cities.

“We have made real progress in tackling the smartphone theft epidemic that was affecting many major cities just two years ago,” said London Mayor Boris Johnson.

“The wireless industry continues to roll out sophisticated new features, but preventing their own customers from being the target of a violent crime is the coolest technology they can bring to market,” San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said.

A law mandating kill switches has yet to go into effect in California where smartphone theft accounts for more than half of all crimes in San Francisco, Oakland and other cities. Apple, Samsung and Google have already implemented kill switches on their smartphones, and Microsoft is expected to update their mobile operating system with one this year. Officials are urging manufacturers to enable the feature by default like Apple does rather than making it optional.

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