The holiday season is a time for gift giving and many recepients were given iPhones that many cannot live without. Whether these cell phones are from Apple, Verizon, Windows, Samsung or Sprint, the popularity of these phones have grown dramatically. With their stylish looks and multiple features, consumers are transfixed of their capabilities. You see people with these phones everywhere, constantly messing with their devices; on subways, in cars, at work. You sometimes have to dodge people on the street since many are so engrossed with their phones they don’t notice or care to see others coming.
And because of their tech mobility, the iPhone is now the highest item in theft. Cities such as Washington, D.C., San Francisco, New York, Oakland, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and other major metropolitan areas are concerned with the number of thefts and robberies of these devices. Action plans have been taken this year to curb thefts, which in some cases are related to black market rings on a national and international level.
The Huffington Post and other major media outlets reported an article of what is being done and taking place to stop the thefts which began in April –
In April, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer and New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly announced that the major U.S. cell phone carriers and the Federal Communications Commission have agreed to set up a national database to track reported stolen phones. It is scheduled to launch in late 2013.
Schumer also introduced a bill called the Mobile Device Theft Deterrence Act, which proposes a five-year prison sentence for tampering with the ID numbers of a stolen cell phone. The bill is supported by the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA), a Washington, D.C. advocacy group.
In addition, CTIA officials said carriers are expected to launch individual databases later this month to permanently disable a cell phone reported stolen. The initiative is similar to a successful decade-old strategy in Australia.
Chris Guttman-McCabe, CTIA’s vice president of regulatory affairs, said the goal of creating theft databases is to render stolen cell phones worthless.
“We want to dry up the aftermarket,” Guttman-McCabe said. “Hopefully, there will be no sense in stealing a phone and a once valuable piece of hardware will essentially turn into useless metal.”
According to Wikipedia “CTIA – The Wireless Association is an industry trade group that represents a wide variety of interests on behalf of the international wireless telecommunications industry. Its members include international cellular, personal communication services and enhanced specialized mobile radio providers and suppliers, and providers and manufacturers of wireless data services and products. CTIA originally stood for Cellular Telephone Industry Association.”
“New technologies create new risks,” said Julius Genachowski, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, which negotiated the database proposal. “We wanted to find a way to reduce the value of stolen smartphones.”
Rolfe Winkler of the Wall Street Journal wrote in April the article “Carriers Band to Fight Cellphone Theft” that gave details of what the FCC Commissioner and other officials in major cities are doing to combat the theft problem. Here is a caption of his article.
In April, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, along with Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., announced new initiatives to combat the thefts.
Genachowski announced the creation and implementation of a database to prevent the use of stolen smartphones. With this new system, which is expected to launch in the coming months, a cell phone user can report their device stolen and their carrier will block the device from being used.
Cellphone theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the U.S., law-enforcement officials nationwide say. The deal between the FCC and the wireless carriers is partly the result of pressure from frustrated police chiefs. The Major Cities Chiefs Association, an affiliation of 70 police chiefs from large cities across the U.S. and Canada, published a resolution in February calling on the FCC to require telecom companies to implement technology to disable stolen devices.
Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray’s website (mayor.dc.gov) announced on Dec. 3 that Gray and Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Chief Cathy Lanier introduced a new tool to avoid smart phone theft. The tool, known as “bricking” by definition is “the ability to render a stolen smart phone inoperable.”
Many urban cities today are seeing an increase as high as 40% of phone thefts and robberies. These crimes involve loss, injury and even death to victims; but also personal information on the victim can be retrieved; adding more risk to identity theft.
Two examples which ABC reported that ended in deaths regarding smart phone theft was “Hwangbum Yang, 26, a chef at a restaurant in Manhattan’s Museum of Modern Art (New York), was shot and killed during a cell phone robbery on his way home from work in April,” and “In 2011(Chicago), 17-year-old Prince Watson was charged with the murder of Sally Katona-King, 68, when he shoved her down the stairs in an attempt to steal her iPhone.”
In February 2011 WUSA9 reported that Metro, Washington, D.C.’s transportation system in 2010 stated, “there were roughly 1,000 electronic devices stolen and 60% of those thefts were stolen right out of owners’ hands.” Metro immediately issued a reminder to those riding public transportation. The reminder is stated below.
ABC also reported that Bill Cassell of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) talked about how the police there broke up two rings that were involved in cell phone theft in September.
“They were all targeting people in fast food restaurants, coffee shops, people walking on streets,” Cassell said. “The victims all had a similar profile too. They were all focused on their cell phones, inattentive of their surroundings and looked like they wouldn’t put up a fight.”
Cassell’s description of victims was on target; those not paying attention of their surroundings. Theives stealing these phones come in all categories. Many are juveniles and teens; who can pinpoint what they want, snatch the item, and run away quickly out of sight.
More information on how DC residents can protect their smart phones can be found on www.brickit.dc.gov.