Fighting a rash of stolen cell phones -- which are now the target of as much as 40 percent of robberies in D.C. and other large U.S. cities -- District authorities are backing a new effort urging consumers to completely disable a phone once it's stolen.
That practice is called "bricking," because it renders the phone completely inoperable, the technical equivalent of a brick or an expensive paperweight. Even with a new SIM card, it can't be used again, and so it has no value to thieves.
Consumers can "brick" their phones by contacting their mobile carrier. Contacts for the mobile carriers can be found here.
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier encouraged consumers to "brick" stolen phones in a press conference today.
Lanier has voiced her concern about mobile device thefts, urging consumers not to have their phones visible in public and participating in federal and international databases to track stolen mobile devices.
Earlier this year, the Metro system said mobile thefts were a big part of the reason for a jump in crimes on the transit system.
Now authorities hope this effort will make mobile device thefts pointless.
“Cell phones remain the primary item taken in a robbery,” said Lanier said in a press release. “The partnership among the FCC, telecommunications industry, and law enforcement to brick phones is a huge step in helping to shut down the stolen cell phone market."
Lanier and Gray also announced more than 80 police cadets will join undercover police and regular squads to patrol shopping areas this holiday season and pass out tips to unwary citizens to protect their phones and packages.