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Wireless Phone Providers Agree To ‘Kill Switch’ On Cell Phones

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cell phone theft
Ileto Christie 370x278 (2) Christie Ileto
Christie Ileto joined WJZ's News Team in the fall of 2012. She was...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — There’s a major step to stop violent smart phone thefts. The nation’s biggest wireless companies agree to put a kill switch in every new phone to make it useless if it’s stolen. There have been several recent attacks around Baltimore.

Christie Ileto reports local law enforcement applauds the move.

It’s a push to kill a surging number of cell phone thefts.

“Anything that renders the phone useless will hopefully deter people from stealing the phone anymore because there’s no point to having it if there’s a kill switch,” said Richard Kumapley.

More than a dozen wireless phone providers–like AT&T, Samsung and Verizon–just announced they plan to install software that allows customers to delete sensitive information and make stolen cell phones inoperable.

“It makes a bad guy think, `If I take a cell phone and if the owner can turn it off, is it worth taking the cell phone?'” said Jeremy Silbert, Baltimore City Police.

The brazen crime is flooding city streets across the nation.

“They just came from behind me really suddenly and they were like, `What you got? What you got?'” said Mykeal.

In a revealing interview, Towson student Mykeal spoke only with WJZ candidly about how he was stabbed multiple times for his phone.

“I started feeling gradually weaker. I sat down next to a telephone pole; next thing I knew, the police were there,” he said.

The FCC says one in three robberies are cell phone thefts. Criminals are mainly eying smart phones.

Critics raise concerns about hackers disabling cell phones without owners’ knowing, but for many smart phone users, it’s an extra layer of security.

“There’s no perfect solution, but it’s a step in the right direction,” Kumapley said.

The software will be there for users to turn on or download. It will not be turned on automatically. The feature will be offered at no cost to users.

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