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Mobile phone carriers band together to stop cell phone theft

Mobile phone carriers have teamed up with government and the FCC to build a database of stolen cell phones in order to track and even shut them down remotely.

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US Senator Charles Schumer speaks during a news conference to announce 'a major wireless industry agreement to combat cell phone theft and related crimes' April 10, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Major mobile phone carriers have agreed to a plan to track and shut down cell phones reported stolen.

The carriers have teamed up with the US government and the Federal Communications Commission to build a database of stolen cell phones in order to track and even shut them down remotely.

Each cell phone will have a serial number like a car license plate that will be stored in the database if reported stolen.

“Any system that can prevent a theft or a thief from reselling a device will be a welcome tool to make our system safer,” said Metro Transit Police Chief Michael Taborn, said the Washington Post

The effort is to crack down on the rising numbers of cell phone theft around the country by making the resale value on the phones nil.

According to the Wall Street Journal, there were more than 26,000 reported incidents of electronics theft in 2011, with over 80 percent involving mobile phones.

In Washington, DC, cell phone theft rose 54 percent between 2007 and 2011, and are now taken in nearly 40 percent of all robberies in the district, according to FCC statistics.

Verizon and Sprint already block stolen mobile phones from being activated leaving AT&T and T-Mobile to do the same by the end of October.

"Today iPhones and smartphones are catnip for criminals. They're valuable, they're exposed, they're easy to steal. They are ripe for the picking," Senator Charles Schumer, a key backer of the plan, said reported the Chicago Tribune.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/business-tech/120411/wireless-carriers-band-together-stop-cellphone-theft