Business

Psst! Wanna buy a smartphone? Got papers!

The iPhone 4

Since a smartphone is such an attractor for thieves, what if you couldn’t sell a used one without proof of ownership? That’s the idea behind a new bill introduced Friday in the New York State Legislature.

As with cars, you’d need to keep your papers if you ever wanted to unload your smartphone. The bill, introduced by State Senator Jeffrey D. Klein and Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz, would make it illegal to sell such a device unless legitimate ownership was documented.

Klein told The New York Times that the proposed legislation was intended “to scare black market retailers out of this terrible business.” He added that retailers, such as flea markets or bodegas looking to make “a few extra bucks by selling stolen phones,” will now think twice before paying “one of these criminals.” Klein and Dinowitz represent sections of the Bronx, where a 26-year-old Korean immigrant was shot and killed last year for his iPhone, later found for sale on Craigslist.

$750, 30 Days

If the bill is enacted into law, any seller would need to have a copy of a receipt of purchase, including serial numbers, or be looking at a fine up to $750 or even up to 30 days in jail. The law would exempt sales between individuals, such as between family members, but an individual becomes a business if he sells three or more devices. Buying or selling stolen goods is already illegal, but this bill is looking to better pinpoint which smartphones are stolen.

Smartphone theft is a booming industry. According to a San Francisco City official, smartphones were stolen from 1.6 million Americans in 2012. VentureBeat’s own Christina Farr had her iPhone stolen at knifepoint last year.

In fact, New York City would have shown a decrease in crime in 2012 if you didn’t count stolen smartphones.


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