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NY State attorney general asks smartphone manufacturers to help combat theft


Smartphone thefts are running rampant -- especially in New York City -- so much that the practice of grabbing the expensive phones is being referred to as "Apple picking." Bloomberg announced yesterday that New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has sent letters to executives at Apple, Google, Microsoft and Samsung asking for information and cooperation on measures to diminish theft.

In his letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook, Schneiderman said, "I seek to understand why companies that can develop sophisticated handheld electronics, such as the products manufactured by Apple, cannot also create technology to render stolen devices inoperable and thereby eliminate the expanding black market on which they are sold."

Schneiderman has concerns that the manufacturers have benefited from sales of replacement devices. In his letter to Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, he chided the search engine company by saying, "Foreign trafficking of stolen devices has proliferated, and an abundance of domestic black market resellers, including right here in New York, means as a practical matter that phones do not, contrary to your website's assertion, become unusable."

It's not as if the industry is just sitting back and watching this go on, contrary to Schneiderman's assertions. Apple has been working closely with the New York Police Department to track down stolen devices, and the entire wireless industry is cooperating with the Federal Communications Commission to form a central database of stolen devices to prevent them from being reused. That database, which Engadget notes is up and running, should allow for individual devices to be rendered unusable by carriers after being reported as stolen.

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