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Measures Targeting Black Market Make Your Smart Phone Safer

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Recent police officers have gone into pursuing and shutting down operations that fence stolen smart phones.
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Recent police officers have gone into pursuing and shutting down operations that fence stolen smart phones.

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier says the department's campaign to tackle cell phone thefts is paying off, with robberies down 8 percent.

Police say nearly 40 percent of robberies involve stolen smart phones, and after last year's huge increase in robberies, police have focused on shutting down the lucrative black market for the mobile devices.

From convincing cell phone companies to let customers remotely shut down or brick a stolen cell phone, to organizing a national database that tracks phones, Chief Lanier has helped lead a national lobbying campaign to curtail thefts of the omnipresent gadgets.

The latest effort: targeting the stores, kiosks and illegal fencing operations that pay cash for used cell phones. Lanier says a recent investigation found hundreds that were likely stolen from D.C. residents.

"It's working, but it seems every time like we come up with another solution, there's another hole in the dam," Lanier says. "We have to keep plugging the holes and dam as we go along. I think all of the things we're doing is helping, but there is still some things that have be done."

One of those holes , Lanier says, is the international black market. Lanier says there are still loopholes that need to be addressed by cell phone manufacturers.

NPR

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WAMU 88.5

The Politics Hour - May 27, 2016

Congress votes to override DC's 2013 ballot initiative on budget autonomy. Virginia governor faces a federal investigation over international finance and lobbying rules. And DC, Maryland and Virginia move to create a Metro safety oversight panel.

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