UK Police Steal Criminal iPhone and Keep swapping in screen to prevent from locking

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UK cops turn to extreme solution to get around encryption
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and the UK Metropolitan Police knows it best, as the officers had to get around the encryption system on an iPhone in a pretty unique way: by stealing the phone while it was in use and then keeping swiping through screens to avoid locking.

Specifically, the BBC reports that the UK police wanted to avoid a case similar to FBI’s when Apple refused to help unlock an iPhone used by a terrorist and proposed a plan that had the phone used by a suspect stolen while he was using it. Literally.

And that’s exactly what police officers did. They tracked down the suspect, waited for him to start a phone call and then mugged him in the middle of the street. Another officer was in charge of preventing the iPhone from getting locked, so he had to keep swiping through screens and maintaining the device active until investigators managed to extract all data.

Cellebrite would have helped

According to the source, the iPhone could play an essential role in an investigation of a crime ring that would involve using fake credit cards to purchase expensive goods which were then sold in the United Kingdom for cash.

Police officers believed that information that could help them during the investigation could be available on the iPhone, especially because the owner was known as a very cautious person that was keeping the iPhone locked all the time and he was using a passcode to protect data.

With Apple not at all interested in working with authorities on unlocking iPhones, the Met police had just one option (actually, there were two options, this and contacting Cellebrite for brute-forcing into the iPhone) to extract the available information.

It goes without saying that Apple hasn’t commented on this case, but there’s no doubt that Cupertino wouldn’t be willing to discuss a case involving a password-protected iPhone.