NEW YORK, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- New York police say they've formed a team dedicated to catching people involved in rampant theft of Apple Phones and iPads.
The theft of the popular devices -- dubbed "apple-picking" by thieves -- has become so widespread in the city a team of police has been assigned to work with Apple to get the stolen gadgets back, the New York Post reported Friday.
When an Apple device is reported stolen, detectives attempt to obtain tracking numbers, either from the victim or from online records, which are then passed on to Apple.
Apple -- which can track its devices even if they are subsequently re-registered with a different wireless provider -- will provide NYPD with the device's location.
"We're looking for ways to find individuals who have stolen Apple products and return the products to their original owners," NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said. "It is being done to learn the pattern of who is stealing."
Many of the devices are sold on the second-hand market to people who aren't aware they were stolen, police said, but even in those cases police may confiscate the device to return it to the original owner.
"This technique of identifying stolen phones by their unique identifiers has been around for a number of years and is technically rather simple -- the difficult part has been integrating with law enforcement to track down the stolen devices," Kevin Mahaffey, co-founder of cellphone security firm Lookout, said.