Bryan Cohen Jun. 14, 2013, 8:01pm

CHICAGO (Legal Newsline) - Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan called on smart phone makers Thursday to develop a "kill switch" that would render devices inoperable if they are stolen in an attempt to deter theft.

Madigan's office joined a national coalition on Thursday at a summit to address the spike in cell phone thefts, a crime commonly known as apple picking. Madigan joined with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, other attorneys general, district attorneys, police chiefs, public safety advocates and others from around the country at the summit with four major smart phone manufacturers: Samsung, Microsoft, Motorola/Google and Apple.

According to the Federal Communications Commission, cell phone thefts comprise between 30 and 40 percent of all robberies throughout the nation. In 2011, a 17-year-old boy stole a smart phone at the Fullerton el station in Chicago and pushed a 68-year-old woman down the stairs when fleeing the station. The woman died from her injuries and the perpetrator was sentenced to 32 years in prison for robbery and murder.

"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."

The coalition will analyze causes and trends related to cell phone thefts and sales on the secondary market. The development of a "kill switch" as a standard phone feature would allow a manufacturer to remotely disable a phone if it is stolen, keeping the device from being reactivated.


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