City steps to stop cell phone thefts, bill passes first vote

7:28 PM, Nov 19, 2012   |    comments
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By Ashley Yarchin

St. Louis (KSDK) - As crime rates continue to take a tumble in the City of St. Louis, one type of theft remains on the rise: cell phones. It's an issue the mayor's office has been trying to tackle for months.

We told you in September about a piece of legislation to help curb those kinds of thefts, and over the weekend, its first vote passed unanimously.

But to tell this story, we must take you back to August 18, 2012, 23-year-old Megan Boken was on the phone with her mother, getting into her car in the Central West End, when police say a man ran up to her, and tried to take her cell. When his plan didn't work, they say he ran off, shooting and killing the former Saint Louis University volleyball star, and then hopping into a car driven by his accomplice.

While that is the worst we've seen when it comes to cell phone thefts or attempts, the St. Louis mayor's chief of staff says the city knew they had a problem on its hands long before.

"When you're walking down the street with a phone to your ear, you might as well be walking down the street with a first full of $100 bills in your hands 'cause that's what the thieves see," Jeff Rainford explained as the reason for a bill proposed by the mayor. "We're really not going after AT&T and Verison because eventually they're gonna take care of the problem. We're going after what we call the secondhand stores."

According to the legislation, secondhand dealers will have to get a license. Resellers also would need to record the phone's identity number and collect detailed information including the seller's name, address, a copy of their driver's license, even their thumbprints. And police could access that information.

"We can also help each other by not going out and buying these cheap stolen phones," Rainford went on to say. "

If we all kind of band together on this thing, we will beat the thugs and the criminals in this things and we will make this problem go away."

The final vote on the mayor's bill is set for November 30th.


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