DA O'Malley Lends Support to S.O.S. Initiative

District Attorney Nancy O'Malley officially lends her support to the nationwide initiative to curb robberies and thefts of smartphones. The Secure Our Smartphones (S.O.S.) Initiative, spearheaded by San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón and New York State Attorney General Erich Schneiderman, brings together attorneys general, district attorneys, chiefs of police, consumer advocates, and educators from all around the country for a conversation with smartphone manufacturers on the topic of crime deterrance.

Smartphones and other mobile devices are hot commodities for criminals. Due to their small size, increasing ubiquity, and high resale value, mobile devicess are attractive targets for robbers and thieves. It is estimated that one out of every three robberies nationwide involves a smartphone or other mobile device.

It is possible however, to install a "kill switch" which would disable any stolen phone or device, rendering it completely inoperable, and therefore valueless. It is hoped that a remote kill switch would reduce the incentive for criminals to steal these devices, and that this would drive down robberies substantially.

In a letter sent to the executives of some of the largest smartphone manufacturers and network providers, the S.O.S. Initiative states: “Unlike other types of crimes, manufacturers and carriers have the ability to end the growing number of smartphone thefts with a technological solution,” reads the letter. “The implementation of a ‘kill switch’ would render stolen devices inoperable on any network, anywhere in the world. Such a feature would disable the device even if it is turned off or the SIM card has been removed. By eliminating the ability for the phone to be reactivated, the value of these mobile communications devices would be equivalent to that of a paperweight. As a result, the incentive to steal them would be eliminated.”

Rates of robbery are exceptionally high in Alameda County; the FBI recently identified the city of Oakland as the "robbery capital of the country." Our Office supports every sensible measure to eliminate crime and reduce victimhood in our communities. We applaud the efforts of the S.O.S. Initiative and lend our whole-hearted support to the cause of finding a reasonable way of reducing smartphone robbery and theft. It is our hope that this type of crime will soon be a thing of the past.

Posted on Jun 14, 2013