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Amber Alert mobile expansion

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Amarillo, TX - Amber Alerts have been sent to cell phones in Texas since 2002 - and starting next year, all new phones will be set up to receive them - and law enforcement says changes like these will help find missing kids faster.

The program began in 1996 after 9 year-old Amber Hagerman of Arlington was kidnapped from a grocery store parking lot and found dead a few days later - the case is still unsolved.   But her death also sparked the inception of the Amber Alert system to help avoid such tragedies in the future.

And in the last decade, the system has evolved along with changing technology, with alerts being sent straight to your phone.

Texas has the third-highest rate of Amber Alerts, accounting for nine percent of the national total. Part of that can probably be attributed to sheer size, which is why you sometimes see Amber Alerts from distant cities.

"With the highways and byways, anyone can be located in a matter of a day or half a day from one end of the state to the other," says Corporal Sean Slover of the Amarillo Police Department, "so you can't rule out where a missing child will be, especially in a situation like the one in San Antonio - they need to get that kiddo found."

As it stands now, cell phone users have to register for alerts, but starting next year, all new phones will automatically be set up to receive them.

If you'd like to learn more about the Amber Alert system or how it might affect any new wireless service, follow the links attached to this story.

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