City Seeking To Crack Down On Cell Phone Robberies

CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel and a key aldermen have introduced a plan to crack down on cell phone robberies in Chicago.

Last year alone, nearly 14,500 cell phones were stolen in Chicago. An ordinance introduced by the mayor and Finance Committee Chair Ald. Ed Burke (14th) would impose new regulations aimed at making it more difficult to cell stolen phones on the second-hand market.

Under the ordinance, sellers or dealers of used phones would be required to check a database of stolen phones before they could make any sale. Businesses that don’t comply could lose their license, and have their inventory confiscated.

Emanuel said cell phone robberies threaten not only public safety, but a parent’s peace of mind. The issue obviously resonates personally with Emanuel, whose son was assaulted and robbed of his cell phone in 2014 just outside their Ravenswood home.

“You have a moment in which you realize that, some people because of the way the law is, there is a profit motive for stealing a phone and a market that is creative, that if you don’t change the law it is not only about a phone, but it’s about a life,” Emanuel said.

Burke said the new ordinance would not deter all criminals, but might make stealing cell phones less appealing for some.

“You make it more difficult if the criminal from the North Side, or the South Side, or the West Side decides that they want to do this, they’ve got to get into a car and drive to Libertyville, or to Waukegan, or to Burr Ridge, or across the state line to Indiana,” he said. “It’s not going to wipe it out. We know that crime will always be there, but this is just one more hurdle that the criminal has to get over in order to accomplish the financial gain.”

Chicago police estimated the average value of a stolen phone is about $100, but second-hand dealers are able to resell them for an even higher profit.

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