St. Louis leaders propose cellphone resale ordinance

Sunday, September 23, 2012

ST. LOUIS -- People wanting to resell mobile phones in St. Louis would face tough new restrictions under a newly proposed ordinance.

Mayor Francis Slay and Alderman Craig Schmid said in a news release Friday that while the number of larcenies is down in St. Louis, cellphone thefts and robberies are up. That's why St. Louis police collaborated with other city officials to develop a proposed ordinance requiring anyone who buys and resells cellphones to obtain a secondhand dealers license from the city.

Resellers also would need to record the phone's unique identity number and collect detailed information on the sellers, including their names, addresses, a photo of them, a copy of their driver's licenses and even their thumbprints.

The information would be put into a database that allows law enforcement authorities to track the sale of goods that are frequently stolen. The goal is to recover stolen phones and prosecute the thieves. Phone resellers who violate the ordinance would face a fine of up to $500.

Nationally, cellphone companies and the government are trying to make it more difficult to use a stolen cellphone.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer announced in April that major cellphone carriers and the Federal Communications Commission have agreed to set up a database of identification numbers unique to each phone.

Using the list, cellular carriers will be able to permanently disable a phone once it's been reported stolen. Until now, U.S. carriers have only been disabling so-called SIM cards, which can be swapped in and out. That's enabled a black market to exist for stolen phones.

But the database is in the development stage.

"It will take a national solution to make this problem go away," Slay said in a written statement. "But we are going to do our part to make it harder for someone who has stolen a cellphone to get money for it."

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