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Apple could be going even further to squash smartphone thieves — here's how

photo of iphone 13 pro, pixel 6 pro, and find x3 pro
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Thanks to the ability to lock phones remotely and hefty security measures, getting away with stealing phones isn't that easy anymore for gadget thieves. And Apple might be about to make it even less desirable. 

That's because, according to leaked internal Apple memo seen by MacRumors, Apple maybe about to instruct official technicians to refuse to repair iPhones that have been marked as missing in the GSMA Device Registry, which they are able to check using their regular diagnostic tools; when phones are stolen, they are also marked as missing. 

The GSMA Device Registry contains a list of mobile device IMEI numbers — effectively a device's fingerprint — along with other key information like ownership or if it's been bought under a payment plan. 

After reporting your phone as stolen, the police, your insurers or your mobile carrier are able to flag the phone with the registry. This then allows the device to be identified as missing through GSMA's Device Check system if it is found or is turned in for repair, trading or recycling.

This flag can only be removed by the organization that made the report, so there's no easy way to disable it falsely. Flagging a phone with the registry can also allow carriers to block mobile service to it across multiple countries, making mobile device theft far less appealing.

As such, if Apple's reportedly new repair policy does indeed come to fruition, it'll make it a lot harder for phone thieves to get a stolen phone unlocked or fixed if they manage to break it. 

Apple already has limitations on repairing iPhones in Lost Mode, and its repair teams won't perform certain services unless you provide proof of purchase. So, while this new rule isn't official yet, it fits with Apple's previous efforts.

If your phone does go missing, we have a guide on how to find your lost or stolen iPhone that will walk you through the steps that will hopefully reunite you with it. If you're worried about the rest of your gadgets going walkabout, then perhaps you should take a look at the Apple AirTag and the other best key finders for a convenient and effective way to track your stuff.

Richard is a Tom's Guide staff writer based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, gaming, audio and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.