Lawmakers push for ‘kill switch’ to deter smartphone thefts

David J. Valesky

April 17, 2014

04/11/2014 09:33 PM04/11/2014 09:40 PM

Syracuse (WSYR-TV) – Local lawmakers are backing a Federal bill to deter thieves from targeting people with smartphones.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Syracuse Congressman Dan Maffei, Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, Senator David Valesky and Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler were at Syracuse City Hall on Friday to announce Maffei’s co-sponsorship of a bill recently proposed in the United States House of Representatives that would require a kill switch on smartphones.

Schneiderman began the Secure Our Smartphones initiative to help combat “Apple Picking,” which is when thieves target popular devices such as smartphones and tablets.

The theft of smartphones has spiked in recent years, with one in three thefts in the U.S. involving a phone.

Consumer Reports estimates that 1.6 million Americans were victimized by smartphone thieves in 2012.

In New York City, thieves targeted smartphones and tablets in 20 percent of all robberies reported in 2013, which is a 40 percent increase from the year before.

“The crime wave will end as soon as all the manufacturers install kill switches so you can cancel it like a credit card. Then the crime wave ends, the thieves have no incentive to do this, but it absolutely has to be industry wide and it has to be something that the crooks know everyone has the capability of using," Schneiderman said.