iPhone 5S: Thieves may mutilate owners in bid to gain access to fingerprint-reading handsets, expert warns

Apple's new model includes Touch ID, which allows users to unlock their handsets with their fingerprints

Thieves have mutilated victims to gain access to phones equipped with a fingerprint reader, an expert has warned.

Yesterday, Apple launched its iPhone 5S, which includes the Touch ID feature, an integrated sensor on the device's home button that reads your fingerprint in order to unlock your phone.

Marc Rogers said the sensors can provide a convenient way to unlock gadgets while also boosting security.

But they have led criminals to commit increasingly brutal robberies and even chop off phone-owners' fingertips, the chief researcher at mobile security firm Lookout claimed.

Fraudsters have also succeeded in lifting and duplicating prints with technology that “is only going to improve with time”, he added.

“Thieves in some regions have worked out that you can force a victim to unlock a secured device, and in some extreme cases have also mutilated victims in order to steal their fingerprint.”

The hi-tech scanners are said to work best when combined with a pin code or another security feature.

“Fingerprints can be a useful addition to security but their value depends highly on the type of fingerprint reader and how it is being used - for example, the best use of a fingerprint is to provide a convenient way to unlock something in a medium to low security scenario,” Mr Rogers said.

“Unlocking a device with a fingerprint, if done right, can be much more convenient than entering a pin code multiple times a day.”