Councilwoman wants to ban ‘cash for cell phone’ machines

reynolds brown wants to ban cash for cell phone machines
Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown wants to ban machines that dispense cash for unwanted small electronics.
Credit: Rikard Larma / Metro

Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown on Thursday will introduce legislation banning the use of “cash for cell phone” machines in Philadelphia.

The automated purchasing machines dispense instant cash in exchange for discarded electronics, such as cell phones, MP3 players and tablet computers. There is one such machine in Philadelphia, located at the Franklin Mills Mall, according to the councilwoman.

Reynolds Brown said in a release that the bill was inspired by a March report from global mobile security firm Lookout, which found Philadelphia has the highest lost and stolen cell phone rates in the nation.

She further noted that, according to AAA, one in three robberies nationwide involves a stolen cell phone.

“Most Philadelphians have either been the victim of, or know someone who has had a cell phone, iPod, tablet or other electronic device stolen. This is a major public safety concern,” Reynolds Brown said in a statement.

“Cell phone robberies are the crime of today and far too many of them are turning violent. We as a city cannot allow further incentives entice criminal activity.”

Baltimore City Council last month passed a bill prohibiting the machines, while Delegate Luke Clippinger introduced a statewide ban in Maryland.

In a March interview with The Washington Post, a Washington, D.C., police spokeswoman called the machines “a huge problem … The opportunity for quick cash is driving robberies of smartphones.”

“This is also an economic concern because these devices are very expensive,” Reynolds Brown said in a statement.

“A stolen cell phone can break the bank for a lot of families, particularly those who give them to young people to stay in touch. These machines are not the right fit for the city of Philadelphia.”


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