New York Mayors & Police Chiefs Join Growing International "Secure Our Smartphones" Initiative

Growing Coalition Of Elected Officials, Including Mayors Of Rochester And Syracuse, And Heads of New York Law Enforcement Agencies, Pushes Electronics Industry To Protect Consumers

Schneiderman: The Spike In Violent, Smartphone Thefts Is A Global Problem That Demands A Global Solution

ROCHESTER – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that the Mayors of Rochester and Syracuse, as well as eleven other officials from across New York State, are joining the Secure Our Smartphones (S.O.S.) Initiative created by Attorney General Schneiderman and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón. Launched earlier this year, the initiative is a groundbreaking coalition of prosecutors, police chiefs, attorneys general, state and city comptrollers and consumer activists working to encourage the smartphone industry to implement meaningful solutions to stop the epidemic known as “Apple Picking” – the theft of popular mobile communications devices such as smartphones and tablets. The frequency of such incidents is staggering. In June, Attorney General Schneiderman and District Attorney Gascón met with representatives from Apple, Google/Motorola, Samsung and Microsoft at a Smartphone Summit convened in New York. Following that meeting and a test of smartphone security features in July, earlier this month London Mayor Boris Johnson joined the S.O.S. initiative as co-chairman. New York leaders joining the S.O.S. Initiative today are:

  • Rochester Mayor Thomas Richards
  • Rochester Police Chief James Sheppard
  • Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner
  • Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler
  • Albany Mayor Gerald D. Jennings
  • Albany Police Chief Steve Krokoff
  • Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick
  • Binghamton Mayor Matthew T. Ryan
  • Binghamton Police Chief Joseph T. Zikuski
  • Newburgh Mayor Judy Kennedy
  • Newburgh Police Chief Michael D. Ferrara
  • Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster
  • E. Bryan DalPorto, Superintendent of Police in the City of Niagara Falls
  • White Plains Mayor Thomas Roach
  • White Plains Public Safety Commissioner David Chong
  • Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano
  • Yonkers Police Commissioner Charles Gardner
  • New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson
  • New Rochelle Police Commissioner Patrick Carroll 

“The epidemic of violent street crime involving the theft of mobile devices is a global problem that demands a global solution,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “Too often in cities, from Rochester and Syracuse to White Plains and New York, our citizens are physically harmed in the course of a smartphone robbery. Those stolen devices are then sold in the lucrative secondary markets around the world. By teaming up with multiple law enforcement and policy leaders, we are sending a powerful message to the multi-national corporations that dominate the electronics industry: They must be good corporate citizens and take steps to ensure the safety of their consumers and our citizens.”

Rochester Mayor Thomas S. Richards said, “I am honored to join the Secure Our Smartphones coalition and support Attorney General Schneiderman’s call to make these devices inoperable after they’re stolen. Robbery is a violent crime that can have a lasting impact on its victims, even when there is no physical injury. With a few adjustments, smartphone manufacturers can help reverse a growing demand for stolen smartphones and play a role in keeping our citizens safe.”

The statistics are equally alarming in Rochester. In the first six months of 2013, 75% of robberies - or 321 out of the 428 robberies in the city– involved the theft of a cell phone. Robberies overall during that time climbed 14.4% compared with the first six months of 2012. The Rochester Police Department attributes the increase to cell phone thefts. 

Street-level thieves feed a global demand 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 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. 

"Working to deter smartphone theft is a step in the prevention of crime on the streets,” said Syracuse Mayor Stephanie A. Miner. “Working with leaders like Attorney General Schneiderman and District Attorney Gascon, we can implement common sense tactics, like the smartphone ‘kill switch,’ which can aid police efforts in crime prevention.”

Albany Mayor Gerald D. Jenningssaid, “As technological advances have made life much easier, the proliferation of smartphones and their daily use has also presented unintended consequences, and, in some cases, theft. Therefore, I applaud the efforts of the Attorney General’s Office and its partners in taking this the necessary bold steps to ensure that public safety is not comprised as would-be criminals may consider stealing such attractive devices.” 

Ithaca Mayor Svante Myricksaid, "I applaud Attorney General Schneiderman's initiative. The Ithaca Police Department excels at protecting Ithacans, but every city across the country is seeing a rise in phone thefts. Cell phone manufacturers can, and must, step up to the plate." 

“I applaud Attorney General Schneiderman for his efforts and leadership on this important public safety issue,” said Binghamton Mayor Matthew T. Ryan. “With the growing number of incidents associated with smartphone thefts, the industry must step up to the plate to help stop these crimes and protect our communities."

Newburgh Mayor Judy Kennedysaid, "With the growing problem of smartphone theft and the associated violence, we must use all the technology available to reduce the incentive for theft. We call for the industry to step up and protect its customers. Implement a 'kill switch' to render the phone useless when reported stolen."

Yonkers Mayor Mike Spanosaid, “No one should be attacked over a smartphone, especially when the technology exists to help prevent these crimes. I’m proud to join Attorney General Schneiderman’s Secure Our Smartphones initiative, alongside elected leaders and law enforcement officials from across the country.”

"I am pleased to support this proactive initiative by Attorney General Schneiderman. Smartphone technology has provided us with many benefits and for many, these phones have become an indispensable part of our daily lives. Unfortunately, there are those who seek to illegally gain from this situation. The Attorney General has recognized the serious nature of this problem and is leading the way toward a solution," said White Plains Mayor Thomas Roach.

New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramsonsaid, “This sensible initiative links manufacturers and municipalities as true community partners. With smartphone use on the rise – especially by children and young adults – these practices will be a welcome safeguard.”

The Secure Our Smartphone Initiative is working to encourage the industry to find technological solutions to render these devices inoperable when stolen. For more information on efforts by Attorney General Schneiderman, District Attorney Gascón and London Mayor Boris Johnson and your local officials to combat “Apple Picking,” visit the San Francisco District Attorney’s website, the New York State Attorney General’s websiteor the London Mayor's website