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Brown Announces Plan to Prevent Illegal Resale of Stolen Phones
DAYTON --Police are battling a serious increase in cell phone thefts. In fact, a quarter of all theft cases in Dayton involve cell phones.
While citing the rise of cell phone theft, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown announced today a plans to deter theft by preventing the illegal resale of stolen phones.
Brown was joined by Trotwood Police Chief Quincy Pope Sr. and Tyree T. Horn, a 17 year-old Trotwood resident.
Horn's cell phone was stolen while he was riding the bus in Trotwood.
"After he made a phone call he said he was not going to give me my phone back so I tried to get my phone back from the guy and as I was doing that he assaulted me," said Horn. "He hit me once in my bottom lip."
“Too many southwest Ohioans have been targeted for crime, just because of the phone in their pocket or purse,” Brown said. “With so much of this criminal activity fueled by the black market, this legislation will crack down on cell phone theft and impose severe consequences on thieves who will think twice before trying to make a quick buck."
Chief Pope said his department is proud to support Brown's effort. He said the legislation will reduce the number of thefts in the area.
“We are committed to support these innovative efforts and look forward to more collaborative efforts in the future,” Pope said.
Criminals often target cell phones because they can easily be resold on the black market. Prior to the establishment of the database, most carriers only deactivated a stolen cell phone’s SIM card rather than the entire phone. While carriers entered into an agreement with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to launch a database of unique cell phone identification numbers to allow stolen cell phones to be entirely deactivated, some criminals are tampering with those unique identifiers- known as International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers - to avoid detection.
"I was like why is this happening to me," said Horn. "I really feel bad because now I'm hesitant in being nice to people lending them my phone. This was the first phone I bought out of my own pocket."
The Mobile Device Theft Deterrence Act of 2013 would add criminal penalties of up to five years for criminals who tamper with cell phones IMEIs in order to circumvent the database. The bill would provide exceptions for legal alterations made to repair or refurbish phones or to protect the privacy and security of the end user. The bill has the full support of CTIA, the Wireless Association, which joined forces with the FCC to implement the national database.
If you lost your phone, be ready to cough up a few hundred dollars to get it replaced. This law also serves as a reminder not just to criminals but to everyone. We wouldn't walk down the street flaunting hundreds of dollars in cash, we should think of our phone in the same way.
"People walk around with their cell phones more exposed than their wallets and the persons and not think of this," said Brown. "There are so many ways to steal them. We want the penalties to be stronger and we want to protect from identity theft."
"It's kind of like bling the more you advertise it out there the more potential it is that somebody might want to take it, grab it, steal it or rob you for it," said Trotwood Police Department Captain John Porter.
As for Tyree, police were able to track his phone a couple days later by using the Find my iPhone app, but he says he's learned his lesson.
"Keep your phone in your pocket," he said. "If you really want to be generous to somebody try not to have the phone in their hand if it's really important they won't mind."
Police also recommend you write down your phone's specific identification numbers so you can track it at a later time.
- Our Question of the Day: How do you protect your cellphone from theft?
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