Cellphone 'kill switch' could stop robberies

by: Alison Grande Updated:


SEATTLE - Cellphone robberies are getting more common and more violent in Seattle.

In West  Seattle on November 25 three people were robbed at gunpoint on a Metro bus.  Bus riders reacted and tackled the gunman.

The robbery suspect, 19-year-old Trevonnte Brown was arrested and charged with robbery.

We looked through police reports in Seattle.  In the last two weeks of November, at least half of all robberies involved stealing cellphones.

 There’s a push to put an end to the increasingly violent crimes.

Law enforcement and lawmakers would like to see all cellphones come with a “kill switch."

If a phone is stolen, the owner can permanently disable the phone. The phone becomes useless and cellphone robberies would be pointless.

The push to  require a universal kill switch is being led by lawmakers in San Francisco and New York.

 Local law enforcement agree something needs to be done.

Steve Rittereiser is the Commander of the University of Washington Police Department. He warns students to watch out. He thinks the kill switch could work.

“I’d be quite supportive of that technological approach to crime prevention,” said Rittereiser.

He agrees it would have to be all phones and all carriers or it won’t work.

“That kind of technology would need to happen nationally,” added Rittereiser.

 Cell providers pushed back against the idea. They fear rendering stolen phones useless will cut into their profits.

They also say it could compromise security. What if hackers locked out legitimate users?

 Legislation will be introduced in California in January that would require all smart phones to have a kill switch.

 In Seattle, phone users say their safety should rate above provider’s profits.

They’d like to see the kill switch.

 “It would be pointless to take it in the first place. Maybe it would cut down on people trying to take everybody’s phone,” said Seattle resident Venise Bjorkman.

 UW Student Connor Ford thinks it would cut the crime.

“I think it could work as a deterrent,” said Ford.