New efforts to curb cellphone theft are nationwide

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Disturbed by the nationwide epidemic of cellphone robberies and thefts, law enforcement officials are looking to the wireless industry for help.

In San Francisco, where half the robberies were phone-related last year, District Attorney George Gascon is calling on major companies in nearby Silicon Valley to create new technology such as a “kill switch” to permanently and quickly disable stolen smartphones to render them worthless.

Stakes are high. Nearly 175 million cellphones were sold in the U.S. in the past year, accounting for $69 billion in sales, according to research firm IDC.

And the Federal Communications Commission says almost one out of three robberies nationwide involves the theft of a mobile phone as a highly-anticipated national database system to track cellphones reported stolen will start this fall.

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