Close to half of all roberries last year in D.C. involved mobile phones and other electronic gadgets.
Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), chair of the D.C. Council's Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary, is proposing a bill that would allow Police Chief Cathy Lanier to close down stores linked to stolen mobile phones. The measure mirrors the authority already given to Lanier to close down bars and clubs for four days if they're linked to violence.
Last year there were nearly 1,500 reported robberies in D.C., and according to police about half involved mobile devices. Discussions are now underway to craft penalties for businesses that buy and sell stolen phones and other gadgets, including a $2,500 fine and a warning for the first offense and then closing the store for three days if the trafficking continues.
Lanier has taken a leadership role in targeting cell phone theft, including pressuring the industry to establish a nationwide registry of stolen phones that would allow the phones to be disabled, a process known as "bricking."