Cellphone Rip-Offs Out of Control

Cellphone carriers say you can 'brick' your phone to render it useless to thieves

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Cellphone carriers say you can 'brick' your phone to render it useless to thieves. NBC Bay Area's Cheryl Hurd reports. (Published Wednesday, Dec 5, 2012)

     

    Almost everyone has one.
    “I took it into the bathroom with me and left it on the sink left and came back and OMG, I left it in here, it was already gone,” Georgia Smith said.
    Smith is just one of thousands of people who are getting their smartphones taken in an instant.
    “I’m a fast runner," Cassandra Robertson of San Francisco said.  "I wish someone would snatch my cellphone out of my hand,” she joked.
    No matter how fast you run, thieves are snatching cellphones from people like crazy. Muni has video evidence of thieves ripping people off of their phones and iPads.
    And it’s happening on the street.  There is video, taken by a camera mounted in a DeSoto cab.
    San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener says it’s time for it to stop. At Tuesday's supervisors' meeting, Wiener requested a hearing with police and the district attorney on the issue.
    “I know that police are focused on organized rings of people who steal these items,” Wiener said. “It also emphasizes the need for us to have more police officers because we don’t have enough.”
    There were some 2,300 robberies in San Francisco between January and August of this year. Half of them involved iPads and smartphones.
    John Britton, an AT&T spokesperson, says as soon as you get your smartphone stolen, call your carrier right away.  Especially if your carrier is AT&T.  The company can brick your phone.
    “We’ll take the IMEI number, that’s the number unique to that one device,  put it through a database and we won’t allow it to be activated,” Britton said.

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