Police issue warning to AirPods users in wake of serial iPhone thefts — enable this feature now

AirPods Pro 2 on a mosaic table
(Image credit: Gerald Lynch / Future)

Police in London have warned AirPods users to enable Transparency Mode when using Apple’s AirPods Pro and AirPods Max headphones, in the wake of a spate of phone thefts in the capital. 

It comes following the guilty plea of one Sonny Stringer, 28, who stole 24 phones in 24 hours on the streets of London using an electric bike to sneak on unsuspecting victims. Stringer has pleaded guilty to the thefts in court and is due to be sentenced in August. 

Phone theft remains a prolific crime in the city, with the Metropolitan Police admitting that a mobile phone is stolen every six minutes in London, according to data in 2022. Aside from the usual vigilance, however, Londoners who own AirPods have been given another more specific instruction to combat the thefts. 

Guard your phone with your AirPods 

Speaking to BBC Radio on Wednesday, PC Jordan Smith said “If you’re wearing headphones [or] if you’ve got AirPods, make sure you’ve got transparency mode on so you can hear what’s going on around you.” Apple first introduced Transparency Mode with its AirPods Pro, which uses microphones to drown out ambient noise using Active Noise Cancellation. Transparency Mode is a setting that lets some noise through, but not everything, to give you a better feel for the world around you. Apple has previously advertised the feature as useful for crossing roads and other activities that require more user attention. 

Finding methods to prevent your phone from being stolen is the first and best recourse against theft, but if you do lose it Apple has a wealth of tools on hand to try and help you recover it. Notably Find My iPhone has features that can track your phone’s location, lock the device, and even wipe it remotely to protect your data. The Find My network also powers AirTags, which recently helped police in Howard County track down $5 million worth of construction tools, some 15,000 items in total.

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AirPods Pro 2 | $249 $189 at Amazon

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Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9