A.G. Schneiderman & D.A. Gascón Launch Nationwide “Secure Our Smartphones” Initiative

Coalition Of Law Enforcement Officials, Institutional Investors And Consumer Advocates To Urge Smartphone Industry To Protect The Safety Of Consumers

Schneiderman & Gascón: This Nationwide, Bipartisan Coalition Is Committed To Encouraging Industry To Be Good Corporate Citizens, Ensure Safety Of Consumers


NEW YORK -- New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón today announced the formation of a nationwide Secure Our Smartphones (S.O.S) Initiative aimed at encouraging the cell phone industry to adopt technologies that would deter theft by drying up the secondary market on which stolen devices are sold.

As part of the launch of the S.O.S. Initiative, Schneiderman and Gascón commended New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli for urging the four leaders of the smartphone industry to protect consumers, and shareholder value, by working with law enforcement agencies and government officials to pursue a meaningful solution to the spike in smartphone thefts.   

Co-chaired by Schneiderman and Gascón, the S.O.S. Initiative is a groundbreaking coalition of state Attorneys General, District Attorneys, major city Police Chiefs, state and city Comptrollers, public safety activists and consumer advocates from around the country. Attorney General Schneiderman and District Attorney Gascón announced the formation of the new initiative on the same day representatives from Apple, Google/Motorola, Samsung and Microsoft participated in a Smart Phone Summit convened at Attorney General Schneiderman’s office in New York.

“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,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “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.”

“Smartphones have become a part of our everyday lives. Over half of the U.S. population owns a smartphone creating an environment ripe for violent street crimes," said District Attorney George Gascón. "The cell phone industry cannot ignore that smartphone theft is a crime that can be fixed with a technological solution. That is why law enforcement leaders across the country are joining us in the Secure Our Smartphones (SOS) coalition to urge the industry to exercise social responsibility for the safety of our communities.”

New York State Comptroller DiNapoli wrote to the Chief Executive Officers of Apple, Google/Motorola, Microsoft, and Samsung asking them what steps each company is taking “to protect its brand and assure public officials that it is acting responsibly.” 

As the trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund ("Fund"), DiNapoli urged each company to position itself “as a leader in working with law enforcement agencies and government officials to pursue a meaningful solution to this ongoing problem. Such action would send a reassuring message to shareholders and consumers alike.”

According to Consumer Reports, the theft of cell phones makes up 30 to 40 percent of all robberies nationwide. In 2012, 1.6 million Americans were victimized for their smartphones. A Harris poll of phone owners found that nearly 10% said their phone had been stolen at one point, and a recent study found that lost and stolen cell phones cost consumers over $30 billion last year.

According to a recent Time magazine report, New York City saw a 40 percent increase in mobile thefts in 2012. Last year, approximately 50 percent of all robberies in San Francisco involved a mobile communications device.

The Secure Our Smartphones Initiative announced today in New York will attempt to address this national epidemic by focusing on several areas:

1.       Analyzing patterns, causes and trends behind the growing and increasingly violent problem of device theft;

2.      Investigating the capability of manufacturers to develop technology that would deter theft, including a “kill switch” that would enable stolen devices to be permanently disabled, therefore eliminating the economic incentives for would-be thieves;

3.      Understanding how the economics of device theft have affected decision-making by the smartphone industry;

4.      Working with device manufacturers to make a “kill switch,” or equally effective deterrent technology, a standard feature of their products; and

5.      As appropriate and necessary, investigating impropriety on the part of manufacturers, raising public and shareholder awareness about industry practices in this area, and using all available tools to press for safety-oriented innovation and responsible corporate citizenship.

“The growing number of violent crimes and senseless deaths connected to smart phone thefts demonstrate just how serious a problem this is in our communities,” Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said. “We must stop these crimes, and it is imperative that manufacturers and wireless carriers are part of the solution.”

"I support Attorney General Schneiderman in this important initiative,” said Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson. “I hope that the cell phone manufacturing industry seizes this opportunity to work with regulators to find common sense solutions."

“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,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., President of the District Attorneys Association of the State of New York “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. By analyzing theft patterns and working with manufacturers to make smartphones less appealing targets, this initiative seeks to do the most important thing we can do in law enforcement – prevent a crime before it occurs.”

“When would-be phone thieves know stolen phones won’t work, they’ll stop stealing them, so it’s critical that smartphone manufacturers add ‘kill switches’ to make stolen phones inoperable and valueless,” said Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen M. Rice, President-Elect of the District Attorneys Association of the State of New York. “Millions of Americans have been victims of smartphone theft, some even losing their lives, so all smartphone makers must take swift action to help stop these thefts that continue to endanger their customers. I thank Attorney General Schneiderman and District Attorney Gascón for their leadership on this important public safety issue.”

“As more people across New York State and the Country move towards using smartphones, criminals will continue to steal them in order to make a profit,” said Albany County District Attorney David Soares. “I fully support efforts for members of law enforcement and our nation’s cell phone manufacturers’ to work together to prevent the theft of personal property and develop strategies to render stolen phones’ unusable.  I thank AG Schneiderman for taking the lead on this issue.”

“No one should be afraid to walk down their street with a smartphone, or be afraid the mobile device they buy their son or daughter will make them a target for a violent crime,” said Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley. “I applaud District Attorney Gascón and Attorney General Schneiderman for leading this national effort to make our streets and communities safer.”

"We stand with District Attorney George Gascón and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and urge the phone industry to take accountability for the rise in smart phone theft all across the country,” said Charles Ramsey, President of the Major Cities Chiefs Association and Police Chief of Philadelphia. "The only way to stem the rampant theft of these devices is to disable electronic devices when they are stolen.”

"The Crime Commission applauds Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s outstanding efforts to protect the public by making our streets safer from the increasing scourge of smart phone theft,” said Richard Aborn, President of the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City. “Likewise, the Crime Commission applauds the willingness of the manufactures to discuss this critical public safety matter and attempt to develop a technological solution. When corporate America aligns with government to develop innovative solutions to crime, everyone benefits.”

Co-chaired by District Attorney Gascón and Attorney General Schneiderman, the Secure Our Smartphones Initiative includes:

·         Attorney General Martha Coakley, Massachusetts

·         Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Illinois

·         Attorney General Beau Biden, Delaware

·         Attorney General Lori Swanson, Minnesota

·         Attorney General David Louie, Hawaii

·         Attorney General George Jepsen, Connecticut

·         Attorney General Jon Bruning, Nebraska

·         Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, California

·         State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, New York

·         District Attorney Nancy O'Malley, Alameda County District Attorney's Office

·         District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr, New York County District Attorney’s Office

·         District Attorney Kathleen Rice, Nassau County District Attorney’s Office 

·         District Attorney Mark A. Peterson, Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office 

·         District Attorney Jeffrey F. Rosen, Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office

·         District Attorney Donald DuBain, Solano County District Attorney’s Office

·         District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe, San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office

·         District Attorney Sandra Doorley, Monroe County District Attorney’s Office

·         District Attorney David Soares, Albany County District Attorney’s Office

·         District Attorney R. Seth Williams, Philadelphia County District Attorney’s Office

·         District Attorney Jackie Lacey, Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office

·         Comptroller John Liu, New York City

·         Mayor Jean Quan, City of Oakland

·         Senator Mark Leno, California State Senate

·         Senator Leland Yee, California State Senate

·         Assemblyman Marc Levine, California State Assembly

·         Council member Libby Schaff, Oakland City Council

·         Board Member Betty Yee, California Board of Equalization

·         New York State Association of Chiefs of Police

·         Superintendent Garry McCarthy, Chicago Police Department

·         Chief Greg Suhr, San Francisco Police Department

·         Commissioner Thomas V. Dale, Nassau County Police Department

·         Commissioner Charles H. Ramesy, Philadelphia Police Department

·         Chief Greg Suhr, San Francisco Police Department

·         Chief Michael Davis, Brooklyn Park Police Department

·         Chief Edward Flynn, Milwaukee Police Department

·         Commissioner Anthony Batts, Baltimore Police Department

·         Chief Susan Manheimer, San Mateo Police Department

·         Superintendent Colonel Rick Fuentes, New Jersey State Police

·         Commissioner Ed Davis, Boston Police Department

·         Chief Jane Castar, Tampa Police Department

·         Chief Kim Jacobs, Columbus Police Department

·         Major Cities Police Chiefs Association

·         President Marty Halloran, San Francisco Police Officers Association

·         Executive Director Chuck Wexler, Police Executive Research Forum

·         Director Sue Rahr, Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission

·         Richard Van Hauten, East Division Representative, Fort Worth Police Officers Association

·         Sean Smoot, Chief Legal Counsel, Illinois Police Benevolent and Protective Association

·         ConsumersUnion

·         Christine Cole, Executive Director of the Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management, Harvard Kennedy School

·         Malcolm Sparrow, Professor of the Practice of Public Management, Harvard Kennedy School 

·         Bernard Melekian, Paratus Group

·         Psychologist Richard G. Dudley Jr., MD, Vera Institute Trustee

·         David Weisburd, Professor of Criminalogy, George Mason University

·         Tracey Meares, Walton Hale Hamilton Professor,Yale School of Law

·         Anthony Braga, Don M. Gottfredson Professor of Evidence-Based Criminology, Rutgers School of Criminal Justice

For copies of the letters from New York State Comptroller DiNapoli and for more information on efforts by District Attorney Gascón and Attorney General Schneiderman to combat “Apple-Picking,” visit the San Francisco District Attorney’s websiteor the New York State Attorney General’s website

 

 

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