D.C. Police Offer Reward for Smart Phone Thieves to Turn Each Other In

Lanier offers reward, asks for vigilance to fight latest crime wave

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A wave of snatch and grab personal electronic thefts is causing Chief Cathy Lanier to offer monetary incentives for snitches. (Published Wednesday, Jan 25, 2012)

    In recent smart phone thefts, those “find my phone” apps have aided police in apprehending suspects, but that hasn’t deterred thieves. Many have wised up now immediately remove the battery from smart phones and pads taken in snatch-and-grabs so the devices can’t be tracked.

    So what’s the app to prevent that? Good, old-fashioned vigilance -- and maybe a little bribe.

    The Metropolitan Police Department is taking a two-pronged approach to fight the latest crime wave in D.C.

    “The problem with that approach is now it is becoming a trend,” Police Chief Cathy Lanier said. “It’s becoming popular among those who are looking for quick and easy ways to make money.”

    Wards 2 and 4 are target-rich areas, according to police. In addition to stealing devices from people using them on the street, thieves will break into cars to get smart phones and maybe take the cars, too, Lanier said.

    First, police asked residents to be more vigilant when using smart phones or pads or listening to music. That’s half the battle, Lanier said.

    In the first 23 days of January, 108 people were arrested in robberies, but it’s so easy to make money from stealing the devices, more thieves keep popping up.

    Lanier has a solution: Offer the thieves more money than they can make on the street by turning each other in for rewards ranging from $1,000 to $10,000.

    “I can tell you there is no honor among thieves,” Lanier said. “When I offer this reward program, people will call us. They will tell us, they will turn each other in, if for nothing else to eliminate the competition.”

    A long-term solution would be for manufactures to make it impossible to reactivate smart phones as has been done in the United Kingdom to take care of this issue there, Lanier said. She sees no reason why the FCC can’t do the same thing here.

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