Phone Thefts Could Plummet Under New Agreement

Stolen smartphones won't be able to be restarted under new service contracts

Tuesday, Nov 13, 2012  |  Updated 8:40 PM EDT
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D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier has made reducing the violent epidemic of cell phone robberies a top priority. Now there's an effort reaching outside the city and U.S. borders. News4's Jackie Bensen reports.

Jackie Bensen

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier has made reducing the violent epidemic of cell phone robberies a top priority. Now there's an effort reaching outside the city and U.S. borders. News4's Jackie Bensen reports.

Smartphone thefts could soon plummet due to an agreement the Federal Communications Commission and the Mexican government signed Tuesday.

The agreement states that all major cell phone carriers in both countries will keep a database of phones that have been reported stolen. Those phones won't be able to be restarted under new service contracts -- even if they cross the border.

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier, serving as a guest speaker at the signing, said phone thefts are one of the city's biggest crime problems, reports News4's Jackie Bensen.

"I represent the people who have lost their lives, or had their lives significantly changed because someone wanted to take their smartphone," Lanier said.

She said she hopes the new measure will put an end to those crimes.

The new agreement stemmed from a similiar one among the major American carriers, which began using a database Oct. 31 to ensure that stolen phones couldn't be restarted under new contracts in the United States.

That led to fears that stolen phones would be sent to Mexico instead. This agreement looks to close the loophole.

"I realized we needed help, and called [FCC] Chairman [Julius] Genachowski and I immediately got help," Lanier said.

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