'Bricking' Now An Option For Stolen Smartphones | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : Morning Edition

Filed Under:

'Bricking' Now An Option For Stolen Smartphones

Play associated audio
D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier talks about a new policy that allows cell phone users to "brick" their stolen smart phones.
Armando Trull
D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier talks about a new policy that allows cell phone users to "brick" their stolen smart phones.

There's now a new tool in the fight against cell phone theft: "bricking." Bricking is a technique that allows customers to render their cell phone useless if it's been stolen. 

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and Police Chief Cathy Lanier announced the new policy at a press conference at MPD headquarters earlier today.

If a person's iPhone or Android is stolen, one phone call to the carrier will kill the device. "That means the person who stole your phone can't resell it on the black market, says Lanier. "The phone will essentially be useless."

For years, this method has not been possible in the United States and stolen cell phones could be easily reactivated. Some other countries, such as Australia and the United Kingdom, already allow customers to brick stolen cell phones and the practice was just implemented in the United States this year. 

The inability to brick phones has made expensive smart phones very attractive to thieves because of the high resale value, according to Lanier. Lanier and others have been lobbying Congress, the Federal Communications Commission and the phone companies to allow "bricking" in the U.S. It garnered support police departments nationwide, as well as the FCC.

"Very quickly, everyone came to appreciate the importance of this," says D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray. "Especially since we saw the escalation of robberies in the last year."

Lanier says if person's phone is stolen, the first move is to call 9-1-1, and then individual's carrier. That way police will try to catch the thief.

NPR

A 'Lasciviously LA' Lunch With Crime Novelist James Ellroy

Ellroy's new novel, Perfidia, follows the Los Angeles police response to a brutal murder on the eve of Pearl Harbor. In a vintage steakhouse, the author discusses the book and his tech-free lifestyle.
NPR

Reality Check For Young Farmers: It's An Expensive 'Habit'

More young people are trying their hand at farming, hoping to make a living out of it. But, as it turns out, passion and grit are just a few of the prerequisites for success.
NPR

Clintons Return To Iowa To Rally Democratic Hopefuls

The Clintons are back in Iowa at an event that is the place to see and be seen for ambitious Democrats. NPR's Arun Rath talks with national political correspondent Don Gonyea.
NPR

Gaming Expert: Destiny Is Good, But 'There's Not Much There'

The much-anticipated video game, Destiny, was released this week. NPR's Lynn Neary speaks with gaming expert Adam Sessler about the new game and whether it was worth all the hype.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.