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Cell phone carriers team up to curb cell phone theft

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We've come to rely on them more and more -- our cell phones.

"I don't know numbers, they're in here," said Amarillo resident Kathy Armstrong, as she held up her cell phone. "So, that's not a good thing because I wouldn't be able to call my own kids if I wanted to."

Thieves has also come to rely on our cell phones more and more - as a money maker.

According to MicroTrax, about 130 cell phones are stolen in the United States every minute. A growing issue cell phone service provider AT&T realized needed addressing.

"Realizing that sometimes a thief can take your phone and somehow get it to work on somebody else's network besides ours, the companies have come together and we're able to track these phones anywhere they're turned up on anybody's network," said AT&T Area Manager for External Affairs Cameron Monroe.

AT&T's new "Stolen Phone Database" is considered Phase Two of the companies recent efforts to curb cell phone theft. Phase One consisted of the development of a new website that allowed customers to find information on what to do or who to contact should their cell phone ever become lost or stolen.

All stolen phones will be entered into one large database, rendering a stolen phone useless on all participating carriers. Another helpful feature for customers will allow them to delete personal information from the phone even after it's no longer in their possession.

"My husband lost his phone temporarily and he was in a total panic just because it had all of his contact information," said Amarillo cell phone owner Debra Payt.

"I have my bank account in there," added Armstrong. "I have lots of things in that phone."

"One of the aspects of this is all the information can be deleted from that phone remotely," added Monroe.
  
While it may not be the "end all, be all" of stopping cell phone theft, it's still one step closer.

"That's going to be our goal," continued Monroe. "To do everything we can to deter people from using phones that aren't theirs."

There will be a Third Phase of AT&T's plan to curb cell phone theft but the company hasn't released any information about what it will entail or when it will be implemented.

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