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State A.G. Launches 'Apple Picking' Battle Plan

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman creates partnership between law enforcement and cell phone providers to fight smartphone theft.

Eric Schneiderman, shown here at a previous event, calls the new program S.O.S. aka "Secure Our Smartphones." Credit: State Attorney General's Office
Eric Schneiderman, shown here at a previous event, calls the new program S.O.S. aka "Secure Our Smartphones." Credit: State Attorney General's Office

By Megan Riesz

Top law enforcement officials including State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced a hefty program to address the nationwide rise in smartphone theft.

The plan, called Secure Our Smartphones (S.O.S.), will feature collaborations among attorneys general, district attorneys, police chiefs, activists and consumer advocates across the United States. It will also focus on trends in mobile device theft and ways to help manufacturers implement a “kill switch” to disable stolen phones.

“The epidemic of violent street crime involving the theft and resale of mobile devices is a very real and growing threat in communities all across America,” Schneiderman said. 

“According to reports, roughly 113 smartphones are stolen or lost each minute in the United States, with too many of those thefts turning violent. This nationwide coalition of leaders is committed to doing everything in our power to encourage industry to be good corporate citizens and take responsible steps to ensure the safety of our consumers.”

In 2012, 1.6 million Americans were victimized for their smartphones according to a press release from the Attorney General’s office. Likewise, lost and stolen cell phones cost consumers more than $30 billion last year.

Chief Michael Davis of the Brooklyn Park Police Department, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, New York City Comptroller John Liu and numerous other New York public officials expressed their support.

“Personal electronics are easy targets for thieves, particularly in crowded urban environments, and there has been a dramatic increase in the theft of smartphones from pedestrians and straphangers,” Vance said. 

“That is why my Crime Strategies Unit has been addressing this spike in Manhattan for the last several years from the law enforcement end. I applaud Attorney General Schneiderman’s ‘Secure our Smartphones’ initiative for both its timeliness and approach.”

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