Consumers Save $2.5 Billion A Year If A ‘Kill Switch’ Stops Phone Thefts, Study Finds

Consumers Save $2.5 Billion A Year If A ‘Kill Switch’ Stops Phone Thefts, Study Finds: Consumers could save an estimated $2.5 billion each year if proposed “kill switch” technology significantly reduced smartphone thefts nationwide, according to a new study.

The analysis by William Duckworth, a statistics professor at Creighton University, estimates that consumers spend about $500 million each year replacing stolen phones and around $2 billion each year buying premium cell phone insurance through wireless carriers.

Introducing a kill switch feature that allowed victims to disable their stolen devices could virtually eliminate phone thefts because criminals would no longer have an incentive to steal them, law enforcement officials say.

If phone thefts were no longer a concern, more than half of smartphone owners say they would buy less expensive phone insurance coverage from third parties like Apple or SquareTrade that doesn’t cover theft or loss, according to a small survey of 1,200 smartphone owners Duckworth conducted along with his analysis.

“If theft becomes a non-issue then only the most paranoid person would pay the extra money for premium insurance to cover theft,” Duckworth said in an interview.

His survey also found that 99 percent of respondents were in favor of having a kill switch feature on their phones.

Duckworth’s analysis comes as the smartphone industry faces increased pressure to reduce the rising number of thefts. About 1.6 million phones were stolen in the United States in 2012, according to Consumer Reports.

Legislation requiring that every phone sold in the United States feature a kill switch has been introduced in both houses of Congress, but no votes have yet taken place.

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman have also pressed manufacturers to introduce stricter anti-theft technology. Phone robberies have become increasingly violent, with several murders taking place across the country.