“If you have a phone here, it is a risk. You don’t feel safe anywhere, except maybe inside your house.”
— Jose Mendez, 33, who lives in Bogota and works for one of Colombia’s wireless providers. The Huffington Post reports that South American cartels are using know-how they’ve acquired and developed in the drug trade and applying them to trafficking stolen smartphones. As more Colombian residents are killed for their phones, the government has run TV commercials described as shocking and gruesome, and the mayor of Bogota has warned against the public display of phones.
Yet, according to the report, many of the smartphones being brought into Colombia are stolen from the United States. And speaking of phones stolen from American streets: U.S. wireless carriers are being asked why they have yet to implement anti-theft software on Samsung smartphones despite its availability. (The latest Apple iPhone operating system includes Activation Lock, which allows for remote disabling of the phone.) The New York Times reports that New York State attorney general Eric T. Schneiderman says the big carriers reached the decision to reject the “kill switch” around the same time last year. The report also mentions that mobile phone thefts accounted for nearly half of robberies in San Francisco last year, and 14 percent of all crimes in New York.
Photo of an Apple iPhone, which is said to be in great demand in Colombia, from Associated Press archives