Police Chiefs Ask For Remote Shutdowns of Stolen Phones


Police chiefs are asking regulators and wireless-network operators to allow stolen smartphone devices to be shut down remotely through unique identification numbers within them, says the Washington Post. That could make it less likely that robbers would point a gun at a victim, knock someone down, or grab a smartphone from a subway rider because the device's resale value would plummet. “This is a national issue,” says Washington, D.C., Police Chief Cathy Lanier. “We have done all we can at the local level.”

Lanier wants wireless companies to use existing technology to let people who report stolen phones ask their service providers to shut them down using IMEI numbers, a unique registration akin to a fingerprint. The United Kingdom uses a similar system. Lanier has sent a request, endorsed by other big-city police chiefs, asking the Federal Communications Commission to require mobile companies to “disable stolen mobile devices to deter the commission of these thefts.” Said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, “It’s a simple way to alleviate it. Why would [mobile companies] not want to do it?”

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