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Legislation aims to deter smartphone theft

Federal legislation that seeks to deter theft of smartphones by allowing owners to remotely delete data from the stolen phones was praised during an event Saturday at Town of Tonawanda Police headquarters.

Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, co-sponsored the Smartphone Theft Prevention Act, which requires that cellphone makers install a “kill switch,” which would allow data to be remotely deleted and make the phone useless to thieves.

Cellphone thefts cost consumers more than $30 billion every year and are driven by an underground resale market, Higgins said.

“By removing rapid turnaround value, we create a barrier that helps to reduce the threat to personal data and the incentive for the crime to happen in the first place,” he said.

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman also was in the town on Saturday. He was joined by Town of Tonawanda Supervisor Anthony Caruana and Police Chief Anthony Palombo, who support “Secure Our Smartphones,” an initiative aimed at encouraging electronic device manufacturers to implement solutions to prevent thefts.

In the United States, one in three thefts involves a mobile phone, Schneiderman said.