Getting your phone stolen is pretty bad. Having the information on your phone stolen is even worse. Washington D.C. police want a solution.
While there are there ways such as Find My iPhone and other tracking software available to find stolen phones, there’s really no way to shut down a phone from afar like one can a credit card.
The Washington Post reports that at a D.C. Police news conference today, D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said that she is joining with other police chiefs around the country in lobbying the FCC, cellphone service providers and phone manufacturers to allow them to shutdown phones using unique ID numbers in the device.
“I hear 15 stories or so every morning in my crime briefings,” Lanier said. “We are being clobbered with these robberies and they’re looking for the same thing. They say, ‘Give me your purse. Now where is your phone?’”
Of the 400 robberies reported so far in 2012, as many as half have involved smartphones according to Lanier.
Officials in Houston said that the numbers of electronic device thefts have jumped recently as well. The NYPD jumped in as well saying that half of the 16,000 robberies reported in the first 10 months of 2011 involved smartphones.
“This is a national issue,” said Lanier. “We have done all we can at the local level.”
The proposal involves the use of iMEi numbers, a unique registration number that every smartphone has. Having access to them, it would allow the police to remotely shut down stolen phones within days of being stolen.
While the proposal would make it harder for people to track down their phones since that’s currently handled by the SIM card, the police see it as the only way to stop the sale of stolen phones that replace the SIM card anyway.
Lanier said that the only way to stop phone robberies is to stop the profit.
The D.C. police will soon launch a program that rewards people up to $10,000 for tips that lead to arrests in robberies.