U.K. police have reported the arrest of a boy carrying a taser disguised to look exactly like an iPhone. Despite being legal in most U.S. states, such devices are illegal in the U.K.
In the policing update for a local ward meeting on Monday night (covered by Birmingham Live), PCSO Daniel Walton showed a photograph of the weapon, which is described as being “indistinguishable” from a standard iPhone. It only became apparent what the device actually was when an officer pressed a button on the side. This photo isn’t publicly available while the investigation is ongoing, and the image above is for illustration purposes only.
Speaking to members of the press after the meeting, local councilor Richard Parkin confessed that he had never seen a taser phone case before. Even though the stun gun is non-lethal in most situations and is mainly used in the U.S. to combat muggings, it can deliver up to 650,000 volts of electricity. “It doesn’t appear that they are very easy to get hold of in the U.K., but they have been smuggled into this country and used by organized gangs,” Parkin said. “People who bring taser phones home from holiday may be unaware they are breaking the law, but it is an offense to possess one.”
As a legal and roughly gun-sized item that people routinely keep in their pockets and bags, phones are an obvious choice when disguising a firearm. Unveiled in 2016, an iPhone-mimicking foldable gun called the Ideal Conceal went on to register 12,000 pre-orders ahead of launch and put European police on the alert. Troublingly, this gun cost considerably less than a flagship iPhone of the time.
Compared to an actual firearm, non-lethal stun guns are less alarming, but they may still violate laws depending on your location. They are not permitted in the U.K., where a woman received a two-year suspended sentence in 2017 after police confiscated a weapon disguised as an iPhone. Additionally, Australian customs officers seized 790 iPhone-style stun guns back in 2014 and made an arrest for importing prohibited weapons.
In the U.S., meanwhile, stun gun smartphone cases are openly sold under the Yellow Jacket brand for $99 with free shipping.
Walton advises U.K. residents who have a taser phone case or a similar electroshock device to “take it to your nearest police station immediately for it to be disposed of.”