Apple products are the most common items stolen in New York City. Last year, they accounted for 14% of all crimes in the five boroughs. So far in 2013, 45% of all robberies involved mobile devices, more than half involving iPhones (many criminals forget to turn off the Find My iPhone app). Theft of the sleek devices even has a sleek name: "Apple Picking." Yesterday the City Council's Consumer Affairs Committee held an oversight hearing on a new bill designed to stem the uptick in Apple Picking.

State lawmakers have proposed legislation that would ban sales of used iPhones without proof of ownership, while Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has called for Apple and other electronics manufacturers to build in a "kill switch" for new devices that would render them useless if they're stolen (Apple's latest iPhones have an "Activation Lock" feature that performs a similar operation).

The City Council legislation, introduced at the request of Mayor Bloomberg, would require second-hand dealers, scrap processors, and pawn brokers to keep electronic records of all transactions, using a system called Leads Online. The information stored in the third-party system would serve as an electronic log of transaction information, which is currently kept on paper.

The city's 6,000 pawn shops are required to keep a written "police book" of their transactions, but John Bilich, Commissioner of Operations for the NYPD, testified at the hearing that this system is "cumbersome and inefficient."

Around 700 pawnbrokers have voluntarily signed up for Leads Online, and Commissioner Bilich cited several cases in which stolen Apple products registered with the police have been found at local pawn shops and returned to their owners. "The City's experience to date has been very positive," Commissioner Bilich said.

The National Pawnbrokers Association strongly opposes the measure, claiming that it violates consumers' right to due process and infringes on their privacy.

"The tremendous amount of data mined if this bill were to be enacted, would result in profiling, and customers would be treated as criminals, simply for conducting business in a pawn shop or a second-hand shop," said Eric Modell, president of the Collateral Loanbrokers Association of New York, and Director of the National Pawnbrokers Association. "This amounts to nothing more than electronic stop-and-frisk," he added.

Paul Solda, an attorney for the pawn industry, says that pawnbrokers are obligated to protect the privacy of their customers, and that transaction information should be used in the "regulation of business, not for discovering evidence of criminality." The NYPD, he says, "runs rampant with disguising criminal investigations under the guise of doing administrative inspection."

Privacy concerns aside, the bill would do nothing to retrieve devices stolen and resold through social media, on Craigslist, or even to large retailers who buy back used smartphones, such as Best Buy, and Amazon. It's also unclear how widespread the iPhone market is in pawnshops. No data was presented at the hearing illustrating the number of devices resold by individuals as opposed to third-parties.

When asked about these matters, the chair of the Consumer Affairs Committee, councilmember Dan Garodnick, said, "This focuses on second-hand dealers, pawn shops, scrap metal dealers. The police department felt that they could most effectively deal with those issues by focusing on those industries."