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AG Kilmartin Urges Smartphone Industry to Protect Consumers

Joins Global Initiative Encouraging Smartphone Maker to Protect the Safety Of Consumers

Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin today signed onto a letter urging three of the leading smartphone manufacturers -- Google/Motorola, Samsung and Microsoft – to develop a technological means to protect smartphone users in their states by drying up secondary markets for stolen devices and eliminate the economic incentive for theft. With this new letter, Attorney General Kilmartin is now a member of the Secure Our Smartphones (S.O.S.) Initiative, a groundbreaking effort to encourage the smartphone industry to implement a meaningful solution to end a disturbing trend of robberies involving mobile communication devices, known as "Apple Picking."

"From talk to text to knowing our exact location in mere seconds, the technology of smartphones is far reaching. With all of the research and development smartphone manufacturers put into making mobile communications indispensable, I strongly believe they can easily develop a solution to deter thefts of these devices that is not only in their best interest but also in the best interest and safety of their customers," said Attorney General Kilmartin.

Launched earlier this year, the S.O.S. Initiative is an international coalition of prosecutors, police chiefs, state and city comptrollers, and public safety activists. By joining the initiative, the attorneys general committed to press this industry to find an effective way to combat the rise in violent street crimes involving smartphone thefts.

Even as most types of property crime are falling, in communities worldwide, the theft of smartphones has spiked dramatically. In the United States, one in three thefts involves a mobile communications device. Consumer Reports estimates that 1.6 million Americans were victimized by smartphone thieves in 2012.

Last year, 50 percent of robberies in San Francisco targeted such devices. In New York City, the number was 20 percent, a 40 percent increase from the year before. Recently, a half a dozen teenagers beat a 36-year-old New York City man for his iPhone. In London, although crime overall is falling, offenses such as pickpocketing and bag snatches have risen by more than 15 percent this year. This is mainly driven by the theft of phones, with some 10,000 handsets stolen in the city every month.

Street-level thieves feed a massive global marketplace for stolen phones that is too large or lucrative for any single community to stop. Mobile devices that are reported stolen in the United States and are no longer able to access domestic cell networks can be reactivated to work in foreign countries. In Hong Kong, for example, iPhones are worth upward of $2,000 apiece.

The states that signed on to the S.O.S. Initiative today are: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, and Vermont, as well as the territories of Guam and Puerto Rico. They join the eight current S.O.S. Initiative members: Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska and New York.

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