With Cell Phone Theft On The Rise, Brown Announces Plan To Prevent Illegal Resale Of Stolen Phones In Cincinnati

Brown is Joined by Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil and Cincinnati Resident Whose Phone Was Stolen at a Local Dog Park; With Cell Phone Theft Endangering Lives and Demanding More Police Time and Resources, Brown Outlines Plan to Prevent Illegal Resale of Stolen Cell Phones; According to the Cincinnati Police Department, More than 400 Cell Phone Thefts Have Been Reported in 2013

CINCINNATI, OH –With cell phone theft on the rise – endangering Ohioans and consuming critical police department resources and time – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced a plan to deter theft by preventing the illegal resale of stolen phones. Brown was joined by Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil and Tess Hammons, a Cincinnati resident whose phone was stolen at a local dog park. According to the Cincinnati Police Department, there have been 420 reported cell phone thefts in Cincinnati in 2013.

“Too many southwest Ohioans have been targeted for crime, just because of the phone in their pocket or purse,” Brown said. “With so much of this criminal activity fueled by the black market, this legislation will crack down on cell phone theft and impose severe consequences on thieves who will think twice before trying to make a quick buck.”

As of last year, about 87 percent of Americans own a cell phone – about 45 percent are smart phones, according to the Pew Research Center. A stolen iPhone can cost up to $849.00 to replace.

Criminals often target cell phones because they can easily be resold on the black market. Prior to the establishment of the database, most carriers only deactivated a stolen cell phone’s SIM card rather than the entire phone. While carriers entered into an agreement with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to launch a database of unique cell phone identification numbers to allow stolen cell phones to be entirely deactivated, some criminals are tampering with those unique identifiers– known as International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers – to avoid detection.

The Mobile Device Theft Deterrence Act of 2013 would add criminal penalties of up to five years for criminals who tamper with cell phones IMEIs in order to circumvent the database.  The bill would provide exceptions for legal alterations made to repair or refurbish phones or to protect the privacy and security of the end user. The bill has the full support of CTIA, the Wireless Association, which joined forces with the FCC to implement the national database.

The Sheriff’s office also released a breakdown of the number of reported thefts by township.

  • Anderson Township- 12 reports
  • Colerain Township- 2 reports
  • Columbia Township- 4 reports
  • Green Township- 22 reports
  • Sycamore Township- 11 reports
  • Symmes Township- 7 reports
  • Whitewater Township- 3 reports
  • Other Areas- 3 reports


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