Philadelphia’s City Council is taking a close look at automated kiosks that dish out cash for used electronic devices, with an eye on climbing local cellphone-theft rates, says the Philadelphia Daily News. The robo pawn shops accept used phones, tablets and MP3 players, assess their value and instantly pay up. The council Public Safety Committee invited law-enforcement and industry representatives to a hearing yesterday to discuss banning the machines. They decided to form a task force to further examine their risks.
“This is a first step in figuring out how we solve Philadelphia’s No. 1 crime,” said Councilwoman Blondell Brown, sponsor of the proposed ban. An August AARP report named Philly the top city for smartphone theft. Police have counted more than 5,800 cell thefts so far this year, with significant yearly jumps on public transit and university campuses. Of the more than 35,000 devices processed by area machines in the last year, 43 were deemed possibly stolen. Maureen Rush, public safety vice president at the University of Pennsylvania, said, “This technology is really great in that it helps us capture [thieves], but how many people need to get robbed in between?”