News Column

Kamenetz to outline bills targeting cell phone theft

January 30, 2014

By Alison Knezevich, The Baltimore Sun



Jan. 30--Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz is set to unveil legislation today that he says would target the theft of cell phones and other electronic devices.

Administration officials say they have been working with police and the County Council since this summer to address such thefts. They have not released details of the legislation, but say he will announce the introduction of two "anti-crime" bills.

According to a County Council memo obtained by The Sun, the bills would ban automated cell phone purchasing kiosks and regulate dealers of electronic devices, similar to how pawnshops and metal dealers are regulated.

The kiosks are located at malls and let users receive cash for used phones and other small electronic devices. A spokesman for ecoATM, which operates the machines, said this morning that he did not know details of the legislation, but that the company feels it has been unfairly targeted by politicians.

"The county executive has not spoken with us," spokesman Ryan Kuder said.

Kuder said the firm fully cooperates with law enforcement and has taken a number of steps to make the transactions safe. The machines photograph the person selling a device, and require a thumbprint and valid ID.

The San Diego-based company is already working with Maryland lawmakers to address phone theft, and believes statewide legislation is a better approach than "patchwork" local laws, Kuder said.

He has previously said that out of 21,000 devices recycled in Baltimore County since April, police have asked about 42, but not all were found to be stolen.

Earlier this month, General Growth Properties said it would remove ecoATMs from its malls in Maryland. The machines remain in two Baltimore County malls owned by other companies -- Security Square Mall and Eastpoint Mall.

alisonk@baltsun.com

twitter.com/aliknez

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Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)


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