Gary: This is not just someone sleeping at a Washington, D.C. subway station. It is actually a sting operation being carried out by D.C. Metro transit police. The person lies motionless on the platform. And as authorities hope, a thief comes up and snatches his cellphone before being promptly arrested by plain clothes police. This sort of crime certainly isn’t new. There are even videos of it on YouTube.
“iPhone and smartphones now-a-days are like catnip for criminals. Why? Well, because they’re valuable, they’re exposed, they’re easy to steal.”
Gary: Would you walk outside holding money in front of your face? Well, that is exactly what some criminals see when they see you talking on your cell phone.
U.S. Senator Charles Schumer recently announced an agreement between the FCC, the Federal Communications Commission, and the nation’s cellular providers to create a database that would be used to permanently disable stolen smartphones.
“We intend to make the black market for cellphones a black hole for would-be thieves and criminals.”
Gary: Here is how it would work. Every cellphone has a unique ID number. If that phone is stolen, it can be added to that national database and all major service providers would know not to activate the phone. These types of databases are already used in Australia and parts of Europe. And law enforcement officials say it is definitely needed here.
Here in New York City, cellphone thefts are soaring, from 8% of all robberies ten years ago to more than 40% today.
But there are ways to protect yourself. Make sure you are paying attention to your surroundings when you are walking and talking. And also, put a password on your phone. It will slow down criminals that try to access your information if it does get stolen.
Senator Schumer’s bill would make it a federal crime to tamper with a cellphone’s ID number, punishable by up to five years in prison.
Gary Hamilton, Channel One News.