Attorney generals across North America are teaming up to fight the latest violent crime: smartphone theft, where crooks often pry smartphones out of victims’ hands as they walk down the street. It’s the fastest-growing street crime. And increasingly dangerous. People across the country have been stabbed and mugged at gunpoint for their electronic devices, which are easy to resell. A stolen iPhone can fetch $300 or more on the black market. Consider these statistics:
- 1 in 3 robberies involves a stolen cell phone. And 1.5 million people were victims of smartphone theft last year.
- And in San Francisco, smartphone theft accounted for 40-percent of all street crimes last year. And many victims were held up with a knife or gun.
The crime wave is sparking attorney generals to band together in a new “Secure Our Smartphones” campaign where they’re pressuring mobile device manufacturers - like Apple and Samsung – to put a “kill switch” in all smartphones – that would completely disable a stolen phone. That way, the phones are worthless to thieves.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says that smartphone manufacturers are the only ones with the power to create a “kill switch.”
And it would make reporting and disabling a stolen phone as easy as “cancelling a credit card.” And he says, it’s the phone makers’ responsibility to fight the crime – and protect their customers.