Senator Sherrod Brown announces plan to avoid cell phone theft - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

Senator Sherrod Brown announces plan to avoid cell phone theft

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - With cell phone theft on the rise, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown is announcing a plan aimed at preventing the resale of stolen phones.

Brown revealed his plan during a visit to the Youngstown Police Department.

With nearly 90 percent of Americans having cell phones, it can be the most valuable thing a person has on them, which makes the devices a prime target for thieves.

A recent study estimated that 113 cell phones are stolen every minute in the U.S., and it's not just adults.

One in five children ages 6 to 16 have had a cell phone stolen.

Every phone has what is called an International Mobile Equipment Identity number and, according to Brown, criminals have figured out how to tamper with those identifiers to avoid detection.

So he is proposing a stiffer penalty by making it a federal crime.

"You federalize it, so if you actually alter the identification number, swap out the SIM Card, and create a new phone, it makes it that much harder," Brown says. "So we hope this will be some disincentive, if you will, for criminals to do that sort of thing."

Apple offers an application called "Find My IPhone" which can track a phone by GPS, and most major carriers like Verizon offer insurance protection.

"With that package it can track your phone on GPS and remotely wire and lock it in case it is stolen," says Dan Mir from Verizon Wireless.

Verizon recommends that you document your phones unique identity number.

"If it's stolen and someone tries to activate it, it will pop up on a list and we'll know at that point that it's been stolen," says another Verizon employee Nick Scutillo.

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