Madigan Urges Smart Phone 'Kill Switch' To Deter Thefts

40 percent of nation-wide robberies are cell phone thefts

By Megan Purazrang
|  Thursday, Jun 13, 2013  |  Updated 1:48 PM CDT
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iPhone 5 Fail: Man Drops Phone Outside Store

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan shares an idea fir a "kill switch" to deter cell phone thefts.

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iPhone 5 Fail: Man Drops Phone Outside Store

Whoops! Minutes after buying the new iPhone 5 at Chicago's Michigan Avenue Apple Store, one man dropped the phone on his way out the door. Thankfully the iPhone survived.
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Attorney General Lisa Madigan wants smart phone manufacturers to develop a mobile phone “kill switch” to make the device unusable if it's stolen.

Madigan made the plea Thursday alongside New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman at a summit conference with top companies Apple, Google/Motorola, Microsoft and Samsung in hopes of deterring thefts, known in many cities including Chicago as "apple picking."

“The growing number of violent crimes and senseless deaths connected to smart phone thefts demonstrate just how serious a problem this is in our communities,” Madigan said. “We must stop these crimes, and it is imperative that manufacturers and wireless carriers are part of the solution.”

Across the country in 2012, a reported 1.6 million Americans were victimized in cell phone-related thefts, Madigan said. If those stolen phones had a "kill switch" capability, Madigan said the device would have less resale value.

Chicago has seen numerous smart phone thefts in recent years and a 30 percent increase in public transit areas. In some reported cases, people were robbed at gunpoint.

In March 2011, a theft turned lethal when 88-year-old church deacon Sally Katona-King was shoved down a flight of stairs at the Fullerton Brown Line stop by a 17-year-old who took her cell phone.

The teen was sentenced to 32 years in April for Katona-King's death.

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