Sen. Schumer addresses cell phone theft

Updated: 11/12/2013 6:02 PM
Created: 11/12/2013 1:26 AM WHEC.com
By: Lia Lando

Senator Chuck Schumer is talking about new legislation to keep you from becoming the victim of a growing crime. 

Senator Schumer says smartphone thefts are a crime of convenience. People see you talking or texting on your cell phone and they see an opportunity to make a pretty penny.

The senator has been fighting this type of crime for a long time and last year announced an agreement with cell carriers and the FCC to create a stolen cell phone registry. He says it is basically an app that tracks your cell phone ID number and if it's stolen, the carrier can shut off your phone. 

But now, there's a big problem.  Senator Schumer says thieves have figured out a way to change your cell phone ID number so it can't be traced or shut off. He wants to make it a federal crime to tamper with that unique identification number, just like it's a crime to change the vin number on a car.

Senator Chuck Schumer, (D), New York, said, “And so we made it a crime to change the vin number on the car, where any of the parts that were stolen we had a registry of those parts so they couldn't be used by a legitimate dealer. Car theft went way down. We want to do the same thing with cell phones.”

Under this new legislation, if you are caught changing the identification number on a phone, you could spend five years in prison. Schumer says this will add teeth to the cell phone registry, which is set to go online at the end of this month.

New York's Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is among a group of 31 AGs, pressuring cell phone providers to install "kill switches" on smartphones. So if a thief got a hold of your phone, you would report the theft and built-in technology would deactivate the phone, making it completely useless to the thief. Schneiderman says it's an easy solution, but companies haven't installed it yet. He and other AGs sent a letter to cell phone providers demanding action.


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