iPhones could soon be a lot less desirable to thieves

iPhone 13 Pro
An iPhone 13 Pro (Image credit: TechRadar)

Given how expensive most iPhones are, and the fact that owners carry them with them everywhere, they’re attractive and easy targets for thieves, but they might soon become less appealing.

That’s because according to an internal Apple memo obtained by MacRumors, the company is implementing a system whereby Apple Stores and Apple Authorized Service Providers will be alerted if an iPhone that’s brought to them has been lost or stolen, and instructed not to repair it.

The system will apparently work through a link to the GSMA Device Registry, which is a global database where devices can be reported as lost or missing. If an iPhone is listed on there, then the repairer’s internal MobileGenius or GSX system will display a message saying as much.

While this change hasn’t yet been confirmed by Apple, it would make sense for the company to implement this, and it’s not the first thing the company has done to make it harder for stolen iPhones to get repaired.

Already, if Find My iPhone has been enabled for the phone and the customer is unable to disable it, then a repair will be refused, as that suggests the device has been lost or stolen. But this new system should snag devices where Find My iPhone was never enabled for whatever reason.

Analysis: better late than never

While this sounds like a good idea, it also sounds like an obvious idea and something we’re surprised wasn’t already happening, as we can’t imagine it would be too difficult to implement.

Making stolen iPhones hard to repair will make them much less desirable to thieves in the first place, so this should reduce the instances of theft – though of course it will only help if the device has been logged in the GSMA Device Registry, or logged as stolen to begin with.

Still, between this, Find My iPhone and Face ID, stealing an iPhone is likely to be more trouble than it’s worth in most cases.

What’s not clear though is whether the repair provider would alert the registered owner or the police if a lost or stolen device reaches them. This report simply states that they won’t repair it, which might reduce thefts in the first place, but won’t help reunite a phone with its rightful owner.

James Rogerson

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to 3G.co.uk, 4G.co.uk and 5G.co.uk and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.