Mayor Francis Slay and Alderman Craig Schmid today proposed legislation designed to make it harder for cell phone thieves to profit from their crime. While larcenies have gone significantly down in the City, cell phone thefts and robberies are significantly up.
“It will take a national solution to make this problem go away,” Slay said. “But, we are going to do our part to make it harder for someone who has stolen a cell phone to get money for it.”
“We are going to take a proactive approach to protecting our residents from theft of electronic devices and personal data,” Alderman Schmid said. “Like our response to copper theft, it is critical to address the places where these items are fenced.”
The legislation was put together by the City Counselor’s Office, License Collector, and St. Louis police. Anyone who buys cell phones and resells them will need to obtain a second hand dealers license from the City. When resellers buy a used phone, they will have to do the following:
- Take and keep a photo of the seller
- Record the phone’s unique identity number
- Take detailed information on the seller including name, address, and a copy of his or her driver’s license
- Take thumbprints
All of the information will be put into the LEADS database. The LEADS database allows law enforcement authorities to track the sale of goods that are regularly stolen and fenced to second hand dealers and to recover those goods. The information obtained by the second hand dealer also allows police to identify the seller of the stolen goods and facilitates additional law enforcement action.
Resellers who violate the ordinance will face a fine of up to $500.
Some national phone retailers have begun to keep track of their own customers stolen cell phones. The companies will not re-activate them on their own networks. But, there is no single national database of stolen phones.
Office of the Mayor