TODAY | March 22, 2012
>>> back now at 7:42. this morning on rossen reports, violent robberies of iphones and other cell phones . authorities claim there is a solution but wireless xeants won't do their part to help. jeff rossen is here to tell us what he found. good morning.
>> good morning. this is an epidemic. tens of thousands of high-tech phones are stolen every year. yes, it gets violent. many victims are beaten, bruised and hospitalized. there's an easy fix here. a way to stop criminals in their tracks. but the wireless companies are blocking it to protect their own profits. san francisco , this unsuspecting woman is about to get robbed. her iphone ripped from her hands. ft. lauderdale, a thief sucker punches this man, beating him to a pulp. the victim tries to get up, but the robber kicks him down and makes off with his iphone. in los angeles , one of the most brutal robberies caught on camera. a man follows this teenage girl into a lobby to get her phone, punching her over and over again. she fights back.
>> i really wanted my phone. i worked hard for it. i was in a mode where i was going to hit him until i got my phone back.
>> reporter: but, he got the phone and is still on the loose. washington d.c. police chief sees it every day. this is a big business for thieves?
>> it's a huge business, huge business. the after sale market is huge.
>> reporter: the wireless industry is putting their profit over your safety allowing stolen phones to be reactivated later with a different phone number . yes, that's right. in most cases black market buyers or the thieves themselves can buy service on that phone which means it wireless companies keep making money . what is your message for the wireless companies?
>> shame on you. it's fixable. it's not all about profit.
>> reporter: cities are banning together sending this letter to officials. there's an easy solution, a fix that would cut the violent robberies. here is how it would work. every cell phone has a unique id or fingerprint. once it's reported stolen, it's blacklisted in the u.s. wireless companies from verizon to at&t would share information banning service for that phone for all carriers.
>> it's a brick. there's no profit. when you take the profit away, there's no motivation to stick a gun in somebody's face and take the phone.
>> reporter: wireless companies won't do it.
>> it's crazy.
>> it's a problem. why are we helping them out.
>> reporter: sprint said they are open for discussion. that's where we went, a spokesman.
>> the police said it's about money.
>> well, it's a money loser in a lot of respects.
>> nearly 70 major police department chiefs say this is the solution, this would cut crime. i, as a consumer say why not try it?
>> we want to make sure whatever we put in place works and it's effective and comprehensive.
>> reporter: the technology already exists. they have been doing it in the uk for a decade and traaustralia, too. it's working. smartphone robberies are down. the industry's response. let's wait, it's not worth trying until every country joins in.
>> let's get mexican service providers , central american , south american , african, chinese.
>> why not start with the u.s.? why not start here?
>> the larger problem, the bigger problem is overseas.
>> reporter: police say americans will keep getting beaten and robbed as long as the wireless industry continues to drag its feet.
>> there are lives at stake. this is a deadly situation. it needs to be rectified immediately.
>> reporter: the fcc is investigating this issue just in the nick of time . cell phone thefts continue to grow at an alarming rate. to give you an idea, on the streets, a stolen cell phone goes for more than a vile of pcp. this keeps getting worse. it needs to be fixed. we are going to stay on top of it for you.
>> sounds like you will. thanks for reporting on this.