San Francisco And New York Officials Battle Phone Theft

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SAN FRANCISCO—On Wednesday, June 5, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman stated that they plan to meet with several of the nation’s largest Smartphone manufacturers in an effort decreased cell phone theft.

In San Francisco, where over half of robberies involve a cell phone being stolen, Gascon has asked cell phone manufacturers to incorporate new technology, like a “kill-switch,” in their Smartphone devices, which will effectively disable stolen phones. Gascon’s office mentioned a particular incident that occurred two weeks ago where a 27-year-old tourist endured serious knife wounds to his face and throat when two men robbed him of his iPhone.

In New York, the coined theft of iPhone’s and other Apple products known as “Apple-picking” has seen a 40 percent rise from last year, according to Schneiderman.

Of the Smartphone manufacturers Gascon and Schneiderman intend to meet with at their scheduled meeting on June 13, representatives from Apple Inc., Google Inc., Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and Microsoft Corp. are expected to be present.

According to reports from the Federal Communications Commission, nearly 1 of 3 robberies in the U.S. includes a stolen mobile phone. The FCC is also in the process of forming a national database system in order to track stolen cell phones.

“The theft of handheld devices is the fastest-growing street crime, and increasingly, incidents are turning violent. It’s time for manufacturers to be as innovative in solving this problem as they have been in designing devices that have reshaped how we live,” said Schneiderman in a statement.

In a letter to the Major Cities Chiefs Association last month, Gascon wrote:

“Despite the growing threat to public safety, cell-phone manufacturers and carriers continue to look the other way. It’s time that corporations take social responsibility and do their part to end the victimization of hundreds of thousands of Americans.”

To platform off Gascon’s letter, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey wrote, “By rendering phones completely useless, an FCC mandate for kill-switch technology will drastically reduce this major crime problem.”

By Kyle Maloney