New York officials have expressed their support for a bill that will require tablet and smartphone manufacturers to install a kill switch that will enable owners to delete data from devices if they are stolen.
U.S. Representative Jose Serrano announced that he would sponsor the “Smart Phone Theft Prevention Act” in the House of Representatives.
The bill is supported by New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton and State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
In recent years, tablet and smartphone theft has skyrocketed and become one of the country’s single largest property crimes, according to the State Attorney General’s office.
In 2012, Consumer Reports estimated that around 1.6 million Americans were victims of smartphone theft.
This type of crime soared by 40 per cent in 2013, with 50 per cent of robberies in San Francisco and 20 per cent in New York City involving smartphones, noted the attorney general’s office.
The NYPD revealed that iPhones accounted for the bulk of thefts, or about 18 per cent of all grand larcenies in New York.
Although thieves can no longer use stolen smartphones and tablets on domestic mobile, they can be reactivated overseas and can even be worth hundreds of dollars on the black market.
“It is time for smartphone carriers and manufacturers to get serious about protecting the safety and security of their customers,” Serrano said.
“This legislation will ensure that consumers are empowered to protect themselves by rendering their smartphones useless in the hands of criminals. This is the most effective way to deter smartphone theft.”