Freedom Mobile Now Carrier Locks Apple iPhones to Fight Theft at Retail Stores

Shaw’s Freedom Mobile says it is taking extra security measures to combat iPhone theft at its retail stores, now carrier locking these Apple devices until the point of activation or outright sales.

According to internal documents seen by iPhone in Canada, Freedom Mobile notified retail stores last week “additional security measures” were coming immediately to help with loss prevention, by “locking all Apple devices to the Freedom network.”

The document explains all Apple devices shipped from the company’s warehouse to retail stores will be locked and only unlocked during activations or outright sales.

If thieves attempt to steal these locked iPhones, they cannot be used on other networks other than Freedom Mobile, rendering them useless if sold overseas. The CRTC Wireless Code of Conduct states all cellphones in Canada must be sold unlocked, which they are in this case, except prior to the point of sale.

For Freedom Mobile staff assisting customers with new hardware transactions and MyTab activations, no action is required to unlock customer iPhones.

But for outright iPhone sales at retail stores, staff must call a central number and obtain help in unlocking the device. Corporate locations selling iPhones will see these devices automatically unlocked within 24 hours.

Last fall, Rogers and Bell complained to the CRTC, citing the mandated December 2017 cellphone unlocking policy had resulted in a surge of smartphone thefts at retail locations. This move by Freedom Mobile joins a policy by Bell last fall which also saw the incumbent carrier lock certain smartphones to combat theft at the retail level.