KEY POINTS

  • Looters stole iPhones from Apple's stores during the recent riots
  • Apple warns all who stole iPhones that they are being tracked
  • The stolen iPhones have been disabled and cannot be used

While people were busy protesting in the streets after the death of George Floyd, some looters were also busy breaking into Apple's retail stores to steal iPhones that were on display.

These looters, however, received a very serious warning from Apple, the New York Post reported. The warning simply said the stolen devices are being tracked.

Images showing an iPhone that was stolen during the looting incidents are making their rounds on the internet. One particular image showed the iPhone display as having a message displayed on the screen, giving looters both instructions and a fair warning.

“Please return to Apple Walnut Street,” the warning said, referring to a store in Philadelphia.

Underneath that sentence reads and even more serious warning: “This device has been disabled and is being tracked. Local authorities will be alerted.”

Apple had been gearing up to reopen many stores in the U.S. amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but was forced to close some them amid the civil unrest that followed Floyd's death in the hands of policemen. These stores, unfortunately, became the targets for many looters who were taking advantage of the situation.

Apple's stores in Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington D.C. and more were attacked by looters looking to steal whatever item they can find. Some, as seen in the video below, were able to steal iPhones that were tethered.

Those who stole iPhones, however, probably didn't think that Apple would use some sort of proximity software that will automatically disable an iPhone the moment it is taken out from a store by an unauthorized person, Forbes noted.

What's more, the looters probably didn't know that Apple has a good item tracking system that works with the Find My app. This app helps users locate lost iPhones using Bluetooth. The tracking process uses end-to-end encryption, which means only the owner of the lost iPhone will be able to locate it using the app.

If Find My was able to help iPhone owners successfully locate their lost handsets (it even helped a teen find her car), the technology will be able to help Apple find the devices the looters stole from it.

iPhone 11 Pro Unboxing iPhone 11 Pro. Photo: Aaron Yoo(CC BY-ND 2.0)