The controversy surrounding EcoATMs continues.
The idea behind the machines is to get quick cash for recycling old electronics. But the kiosks could be making it easy for thieves to cash in on stolen phones.
Delegate Luke Clippinger says a ban proposed in the city would be ineffective without statewide legislation. He says otherwise, thieves can easily drive across county borders and get easy money for the electronics.
“I am concerned because I think it’s an enticement. I think it’s absolutely an enticement where people see that it’s easy to do,” Clippinger says.
He’s drafting a bill to regulate EcoATMs across Maryland, and says he’s working hand in hand with the company and local police departments. There are currently a handful of the kiosks in Baltimore County alone.
“So far, there’s been no specific action taken in Baltimore County regarding kiosks, but it’s certainly something the police department is aware of and taking a look at,” says Baltimore County Police Spokesperson Elise Armacost.
Baltimore County Police say they participated in a statewide discussion on the issue, and plan to look into all transactions regarding stolen phones. They say there has not been a recent increase in cell phone thefts in the county, but they call it an ongoing problem.
“You wouldn’t go around waving a fist full of dollar bills,” Armacost says, “and you shouldn’t do the same thing with your cell phone.”
The EcoATM company says the number of stolen phones in the machines is “incredibly small,” amounting to less than one percent. They also say the process used when dropping off a phone deters thieves. The kiosk scans your thumb print, checks your license, and takes your picture before allowing you to donate. The company argues that there are plenty of other avenues for thieves to get rid of the stolen goods without showing identity. EcoATM reports the transactions to local police departments.
Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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