By Syma Chowdhry
PHILADELPHIA (CBS)–A thief snatched a woman’s cell phone Monday afternoon on a Septa train at Broad and Allegheny.
This type of crime is on the rise, at an alarming rate.
“If we can knock out the lure of cell phone theft, we would dramatically reduce the crime that occurs on this system,” said SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel.
Philadelphia is ranked number one for smartphone thefts, according to a new survey by AAA.
So far this year, there have been more than 3,500 cell phone thefts in the city.
Mayor Nutter said, “The city of Philadelphia is acknowledging that there is a problem.”
Mayor Nutter joined state Attorney General Kathleen Kane and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to support a new national initiative called Secure Our Smartphones, or SOS for short.
They are calling on companies to make it harder for thieves to sell the stolen phone.
But smart phone manufactures make $30 billion dollars to replace stolen and lost smart phones.
“It is an incentive for them to make sure they don’t have kill switches, but we know that they are better than that,” Kane said.
A kill-switch renders phones useless if lost or stolen. Apple has it on its latest operating system.
Officials are also targeting the secondary market, on which stolen devices are sold, like kiosks that are popping up in malls.
Some cities, like Baltimore, have banned it. Philadelphia has one called Eco-ATM in the Franklin Mills mall.
But before you get cash for your phones or mp3’s, you must enter you ID and place your fingerprint, making it harder for thieves to get paid for stolen items
Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown said, “Their technology may aid police departments.”
Officials say smart phone thieves tend to target mass transit like subways and college campuses.
John Langton is a sophomore at Temple University.
“I do hear stories that students are on their phones and kids would be riding their bikes and come on by and snatch it right off of them.”
Earlier this month a group targeted a Temple student’s phone.
Luckily, the victim was not hurt, but authorities say other consumers have been assaulted.