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Mayor Vincent Gray Announces Anti-Cell Phone Theft Initiative and Website

Monday, December 3, 2012
District Residents Can Now ‘Brick’ Cell Phones; More Information Available at

Mayor Vincent. C. Gray and Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier announced this morning the availability of a new tool in the fight against smart phone theft – the ability to render a stolen smart phone inoperable, also known as “bricking.” Chief Lanier also delivered tips on how to stay safe during the holiday season and her holiday deployments.

In the District, New York and other large American cities, roughly 40 percent of all robberies now involve smart phones – endangering the physical safety of victims, as well as the security of the personal information on the stolen devices. In addition to the loss and injury experienced during the initial crime, there is an added risk of identity theft if the stolen smart phone isn’t password-protected to prevent a thief from getting access to private information on the device.

If a person’s smart phone is lost or stolen, he or she may now contact the carrier and ask to have that device remotely disabled. If a smart phone is rendered inactive in such a manner, it’s often considered to be as useful as a brick. These “bricked” phones are of little use to thieves because they can’t be reactivated after being sold on the black market. The MPD is encouraging victims of of smart phone thefts to call their carriers and to “brick it” in an effort to deter theft.

Smart phone users can head to the new for more information and to initiate the process of bricking their phone with the major cellular phone carriers.

“Smart-phone theft has unfortunately been on the rise in the District and, as part of my One City Action plan, I laid out clear actions to ensure that every neighborhood in this city is safe,” noted Mayor Gray. “The ability to ‘brick’ your phone sends a clear message to phone thieves and those who fence these phones that we will not stand idle and let this type of crime continue in our neighborhoods.”

“Cell phones remain the primary item taken in a robbery,” said Chief Lanier. “The partnership among the FCC, telecommunications industry, and law enforcement to brick phones is a huge step in helping to shut down the stolen cell phone market. As the holidays approach, we want to remind consumers to be aware of their surroundings and not be distracted by their devices.”