SAN FRANCISCO—The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office announced on Thursday, July 28, that Governor Jerry Browned signature of SB 962, the Smartphone Theft Prevention Act has led to a decline of more than 50 percent of violent smartphone robberies that became prevalent in the region in 2013, District Attorney George Gascon announced.
According to a press release from the SF District Attorney’s Office, legislation sponsored by District Attorney Gascón and authored by Senator Mark Leno, requires all smartphones sold in California to come pre-equipped with theft-deterring technological solutions which can render stolen devices useless. The legislation requires manufacturers to deploy the solutions in an opt-out manner, where the vast majority of consumers have the technology enabled. The law went into effect on July 1, 2015.
“The prevalence of these crimes made it evident early on that enforcement and prosecution were not sufficient tools to reduce the violence on our streets,” said District Attorney George Gascón. “Because of this hard-fought legislation, stealing a smartphone is no longer worth the trouble, and that means the devices we use every day no longer make us targets for violent crime.”
“Our partnership with DA Gascón and the SFPD and the success of our bipartisan legislative effort continues to pay dividends – less crime and safer communities. Solutions can be found,” said Senator Mark Leno.
Data release from the SFPD data on July 27, 2017, displays that robberies involving smartphones declined 22 percent from 2015 to 2016. According to Consumer Reports, the number of victims of smartphone theft in the United States almost doubled from 1.6 million to 3.1 million between 2012 and 2013, a 94 percent increase in a single year. Over 1.6 million phones were reported stolen in Colombia in 2012, despite the country having a population 1/7th the size of the U.S.
In London, 10,000 phones were stolen in one month of 2013. The black market trade was so lucrative drug cartels were trafficking stolen smartphones out of the United States. In San Francisco in 2014, 67 percent of all robberies involved the theft of a mobile communications device. In Oakland, the number was as high as 75 percent of all robberies.
Reports indicated that U.S. consumers spent an estimated $30 billion on lost and stolen devices annually; the implementation of the technology has saved consumers significant resources every year. Following the passage of SB 962, DA Gascón worked with the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Technological Advisory Committee to develop a portal that enables law enforcement to check – and hopefully return – found mobile devices to their rightful owner. Consumers can use the portal to identify if a phone has been reported stolen to a wireless carrier which can be found at: https://stolenphonechecker.org/.
SB 962 had unanimous law enforcement support from groups across California, and from many groups around the world. DA Gascón co-chaired the international Secure Our Smartphones Coalition (S.O.S.), along with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.