Smartphone theft is a growing problem in the Bay area. Local law enforcement officials have said that 67% of crime in the city has been related to theft of smartphones. In fact, this is not simply a local concern; this is well-covered territory all over the nation. The proposed solution to smartphone theft? a kill switch that would disable any phone remotely after it has been taken from its original owner. In San Francisco, it’s Supervisor London Breed who has taken on the task of convincing city officials that cell phone companies should be forced to include these on all smartphones sold in the area. The state voted down such a measure last week.
In California, the theft of personal property of another falls under (CA Penal Code 484 and 488). Depending on the value of the phone, a smartphone thief may find himself or herself facing either misdemeanor or felony charges aka “wobbler.” For example, if the phone that has been taken is worth more than $950, then felony charges are likely to result; on the other hand, if the phone is worth less than $950 (also known as “petty theft”), then misdemeanor charges may apply. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor theft charge, you will likely face up to 6 months in county and a fine of $1,000. However, if you are convicted of a felony charge of the same kind, you will face much worse California grand theft charges (CA Penal Code 487).