BALTIMORE - You can see them in just about every mall surrounding the city; place your old phone in the tray, scan your ID and thumb print, then receive cash on the spot…but you won't find them in Baltimore City.
"What we've done is, we've made it clear in the bill that the machines in general are still prohibited," Baltimore City Councilman Bill Henry
Henry introduced his bill to ban ecoATM from doing business in the city last month, and it came with a deadline.
Simply put, if ecoATM doesn't report stolen phones in their machines in a more immediate and daily fashion to Baltimore Police, their machines are not welcome.
Despite a good faith effort by the company, that deadline is tonight with the second reading of Henry's bill and the ban will most likely pass.
"I'm happy to continue to work with them but I made it clear from the beginning that we were not going to reduce our standards to meet their operations, they have to bring their operations up to the level of our existing standards," said Henry.
Those standards are strict when it comes reporting the sale of second hand goods; an effort to help cut down on property crime.
ecoATM has its own security measures in place to stop thieves, there are cameras and ID scans, but critics argue with no on-scene human element, criminals can quickly manipulate the technology.
Critics also argue ecoATM’s reporting process for stolen phones is not quick enough to be an asset for local law enforcement.
It is a potential problem Baltimore lawmakers would just as soon not have.
"It is clear that we have a problem that transcends these machines but anything we can do to cut off an avenue of illegal activity is good,” said Henry.
If the bill passes tonight it will then move forward to a third reading next week, but Henry says he will then take the issue statewide and push for a similar bill in the upcoming legislative session.
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