Schumer urges wireless providers to disable stolen phones

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While cellphones have become a convenient way to communicate on the go, they are also a convenient target for thieves who know they can make a pretty penny selling them on the black market,” Schumer said.

Almost half of property thefts in New York City involve a cellphone, Schumer said, citing New York Police Department statistics. He said deactivating stolen phones would deter theft.

Of the major carriers, only Verizon currently disables stolen phones. Verizon does not use SIM cards in its phones.

Schumer sent letters Sunday to the heads of AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint. He also wrote to the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department, asking them to study the United Kingdoms policies for deactivating stolen cellphones.

CTIA — The Wireless Association, a telecommunications trade group, warned against enacting new regulations.

We urge Congress to not impose unnecessary regulations on the wireless industry that would cause unintended consequences,” Steve Largent, president of CTIA, said in a news release.