Bryan Cohen May 13, 2013, 6:45pm

NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) -- New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent letters Monday to the CEOs of Samsung, Microsoft, Motorola/Google and Apple to seek information about their efforts to protect customers from mobile phone theft.

Recent reports show a rise in violent street crimes known as "Apple Picking" in which thieves steal mobile phones and other electronic devices, wipe the devices' memories clean and resell them on the secondary market for hundreds of dollars. Some of the crimes have become violent or deadly.

In the letter, the attorney general said it is his responsibility to enforce New York's Executive Law and General Business Law to address deceptive trade practices.

He requested that the four companies, which account for at least 90 percent of smartphone sales in the U.S., provide his office with information related to representations and efforts they make to consumers related to safety.

Schneiderman also asked the companies to work with his office to help determine solutions to minimize the economic incentives for theft.

"Cracking down on violent and dangerous cell phone thefts is important for New Yorkers," he said in a statement. "The companies that dominate this industry have a responsibility to their customers to fulfill their promises to ensure safety and security."

He continued, "This is a multi-billion dollar industry that produces some of the most popular and technologically advanced consumer electronic products in the world. Surely we can work together to find solutions that lead to a reduction in violent street crime targeting consumers."

Schneiderman's office enlisted the help of Lookout Inc., an industry mobile security expert, to help his office on a pro bono basis on these matters.

Between Jan. 1, 2012 and Sept. 23, there were a total of 11,447 cases of stolen iPhones and other iOS devices reported to the New York City Police Department.

But the problem extends beyond Apple products, the attorney general says.

In 2011, the NYPD found that companies other than Apple manufactured about 30 percent of all electronic devices stolen on buses and subways.

In his letter, Schneiderman requested that the companies designate representatives to work with his office to develop a comprehensive approach to protect consumers and discourage theft.

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