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NYPD urges smartphone owners to register devices

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apple store Credit: People camp out in front of the Fifth Avenue Apple store, Sept. 19, 2013. (Getty)

As people line up outside of stores for Friday's arrival of the newest versions of the iPhone, the NYPD wants technophiles to register their devices with the department amid an increase in Apple product thefts.

For a second year, the NYPD will be in force at Apple, Best Buy and AT&T stores around the city Friday to get people to register their devices' serial numbers with the department in case they get stolen.

“I'd prefer that than the carrier insurance,” said Catherine Stevens, a 32-year-old actress from the Upper West Side who is getting the new iPhone. “It would be a deterrent to anyone looking to boost a phone.”

“Those freaking phones are so expensive and they're your whole life now,” she added.

The new iPhone 5S ranges from $649 to $849 without a contract.

Since the NYPD initiated its free device registration program, called Operation ID, in September 2012, there has been a spike in thefts. As of Sept. 15, there were 20,338 Apple products stolen this year, a 10% increase from the same point in 2012, when there was 18,486 similar thefts, according to the NYPD.

By registering devices — Android devices are welcome, too — phones can be engraved with "N.Y.C." and a serial number. The NYPD says marked devices make reselling more difficult and can be returned to the seller if they are recovered. The NYPD said it will be set up at Apple stores in Manhattan and Staten Island, select Best Buy stores, and an AT&T store in Jamaica, Queens.

With the raise of stolen smartphones and other electronic devices, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said this past summer that he wants the cellphone industry to develop technology to deter the possibility of reselling stolen devices.

Despite the NYPD's insistence that their phones are more likely to be returned in case of theft, New Yorkers are living in the age of the National Security Agency spying, privacy leaks and data farming.

“I don't like the idea of being tracked,” said Sam Penix, a 28-year-old iPhone 5 owner who owns Everyman Espresso, a coffee shop. “It's such a police state and all this tracking just leads to more distrust.”

(with Sheila Anne Feeney and Ivan Pereira) 

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