Kathleen G. Kane - Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General - Protecting Pennsylvanians

Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane: Our citizens are literally dying for their smartphones

Joins S.O.S. initiative urging smartphone manufacturers to help combat increase in thefts 

HARRISBURG - Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane today announced she has joined the Secure Our Smartphones (S.O.S.) Initiative to encourage the smartphone industry to develop a technological solution to protect consumers from cell phone robberies, which often turn violent.

"Our citizens are literally dying for their smartphones," said Attorney General Kane.

Attorney General Kane, Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter and Philadelphia Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown joined New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, the co-chair of the S.O.S. coalition, to announce they are joining forces to combat smartphone-related crime in Pennsylvania and across the nation.

"The underground market for smartphones is massive and lucrative, and it helps perpetuate violent robberies on our streets and public transportation," said Attorney General Kane.

According to a report released by AAA in August, Philadelphia is ranked the number one city for smartphone theft in the United States. The Philadelphia Police Department reported 516 instances of personal theft from the beginning of 2013, up three percent from last year. On average, 39 cell phones were stolen per month on the SEPTA mass-transit system in 2012. 

Cell phone robberies make up 30-40 percent of all robberies in major American cities, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Among the solutions the Secure Our Smartphone Initiative is encouraging manufacturers to develop is a "kill switch" - which renders smartphones unusable when activated - thus drying up secondary markets.

Mobile devices that are reported stolen in the United States and 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 increase in smartphone thefts has been dubbed "Apple Picking" due to the premium placed on Apple products in underground markets. Attorney General Kane urged consumers to be aware of their surroundings when walking and talking on the phone, and to tuck away smartphones for safe keeping when not in use to avoid being targeted by potential thieves.


# # #