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SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — The theft of cellphones has become big business for the cellphone industry.
State Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) said money may have been one reason his fellow State Senators may have refused to go along with a bill that would require mandatory kill switches that would make stolen phones useless.
“Unfortunately the industry, which, just stating a fact here, makes tens of billions of dollars annually replacing lost and stolen phones, and makes $8 billion dollars annually selling you and me insurance,” Leno told KPIX 5.
State Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose) said he voted against the bill because he didn’t want to lock into law the kill switch technology. The senator said he is also concerned about women’s safety.
“I received a lot of comments from battered women’s centers, they had concerns about the privacy issue and being able to prevent somebody from stalking,” Beall said.
The concern is that an abuser could use the kill switch to shut down a partner’s phone, putting the victim in danger.
Citing an epidemic of cellphone thefts, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon has become a national advocate for mandatory kill switches.
“The problem with the current state of affairs is, that even if you and I are using kill switch technology on our phones, the thieves out there know that more than half of the consumers do not have their’s activated. So, it’s a matter of playing the odds,” Gascon said.
One case in point strikes particularly close to home. “I hand him the cash. He says ‘Give me your phone.’ Okay, it’s in my upper pocket. I hand him the phone,” KPIX 5 reporter Mike Sugerman said.
On Thursday evening, Sugerman was robbed of his cellphone within a block of his home.
“I lost my contacts, I mean that’s every source, everybody I’ve done a story with, I must have had a thousand names and numbers in there,” Sugerman said.
Sugerman said he had not activated the “Find My iPhone” feature on his device.
“It takes effort. And I and a lot of people don’t want put any effort into my appliances,” he said. “I certainly will now.”