For Immediate Release - November 12, 2013

AG Coakley Urges Smartphone Industry to Protect Consumers From Theft

Global Coalition Encourages Leading Smartphone Makers to Adopt Technologies to Deter Rising Trend of Robberies

BOSTON – As part of an international initiative to combat the rise of street crimes involving smartphone thefts, Attorney General Martha Coakley is urging leading smartphone manufacturers to develop technology to better protect consumers. 

The letter, sent today to Google/Motorola, Samsung and Microsoft, is part of the Secure Our Smartphones (S.O.S.) Initiative, a groundbreaking effort AG Coakley joined earlier this year to encourage the smartphone industry to implement a meaningful solution to end a disturbing trend of robberies involving mobile communication devices, known as “Apple Picking.” AG Coakley was one of the founding members of this coalition, which now includes a total of 31 attorneys general.

“Smartphone theft is a growing problem that needs to be addressed in order to better protect consumers,” AG Coakley said. “We are pleased to be a part of this initiative to help major smartphone manufacturers implement additional safeguards to deter these crimes.”

Launched earlier this year, the S.O.S. Initiative is an international coalition of prosecutors, police chiefs, state and city comptrollers, and public safety activists. Through this effort, AG Coakley expects the industry to find an effective way to protect consumers by drying up secondary markets for stolen devices and eliminating the economic incentive for theft.

Even as most types of property crime are falling, in communities worldwide, the theft of smartphones has spiked dramatically. In the United States, one in three thefts involves a mobile communications device. Consumer Reports estimates that 1.6 million Americans were victimized by smartphone thieves in 2012. According to one recent report, Boston ranked 10th in the nation per capita for stolen and lost smartphones.

Street-level thieves feed a massive global marketplace for stolen phones that is too large or lucrative for any single community to stop. Mobile devices that are reported stolen in the United States and are 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 states that signed on to the S.O.S. Initiative today include Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, and Vermont, as well as the territories of Guam and Puerto Rico. They join Attorney General Eric Schneiderman from New York who led today’s effort, along with the seven other current S.O.S. Initiative members: Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Nebraska.   

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