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Cellphone Thefts on the Rise in the City

By Tom Liddy | August 21, 2011 6:36pm
Cellphone theft in Manhattan is on the rise, according to Sen. Chuck Schumer.
Cellphone theft in Manhattan is on the rise, according to Sen. Chuck Schumer.
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MANHATTAN — More than 40 percent of thefts in the city this year have targeted cellphones - fueled in part by the proliferation of smart phones, Sen. Charles Schumer said.

As a result, the senator is calling on cell providers to use technology to disable the phones remotely, thereby preventing them from being sold on the black market.

Because many phones use SIM card technology, all that thieves have to do is replace the card and the phone can be reused.

Schumer cited NYPD statistics during the first six months of 2011, which said that 41 percent of all thefts in the city related to a cellphone.  And New York ranked only second to Miami in terms of phone thefts nationwide. 

With 6,608 cell phones stolen in the first seven months of the year, the city is on pace to see 11,328 thefts by the end of the year, Schumer added.

That's a 6 percent increase over 2009 and a slight increase over the year before.

Recently, the 34th precinct in Inwood warned residents not to text and walk in order to discourage thefts and reduce the number of associated accidents.

"The use of iPhones and smart phones is exploding, but unfortunately so are thefts of these expensive devices," Schumer said.

The senator said that the technology to disable phones, using their unqiue International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers, is widely used in the UK and is already used by Verizon.