TODAY

TODAY   |  November 12, 2013

Officials to cellphone makers: Install anti-theft tech

With more than a million cellphones stolen every year, attorneys general from 31 states are demanding that cellphone makers install technology that would make the devices useless to thieves. Jeff Rossen investigates.

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>> let's begin with a rossen reports exclusive. law enforcement companies demanding action from cell phone makers saying they're not doing enough to protect you from criminals. today jeff rossen has more on this. good morning.

>> matt, good morning. the numbers are staggering. more than 1 million phones stolen each year. more than 100 every single minute. it gets violent. there is technology out there that could stop this crime. but some of the biggest cell phone companies maybe dragging their feet. so this morning, attorney general in 31 states are taking action saying those companies are putting profits over your safety.

>> reporter: we've shown you how fast it can happen. criminals snatching phones right out of people's hands. on train platforms. on busy streets. in some cases, beating victims senseless. this reformed iphone thief told us stolen smartphones can fetch hundreds of dollars a piece on a black market .

>> horrible as it may send. tend to look for women. the older the better. if i think that you can't catch me, i'm going for you.

>> reporter: authorities say there's technology that could curb these attacks right now.

>> do you think the cell phone makers are doing enough to stop this stuff?

>> clearly not. the crime wave has become an epidemic.

>> reporter: that's new york's attorney general. he says if all smartphones had a simple kill switch we would all be safer. here's how a kill switch would work. if a thief steals your phone, you report it and built in technology would deactivate the phone locking the thieves out and making it useless. no matter how many times it's wiped and rebooted. but officials say companies still haven't installed it as a standard feature .

>> they have no financial incentive to do it. in fact, they have an incentive to keep things the way they are.

>> so when i lose my phone i go back to them and buy another phone.

>> that's a huge part of their business.

>> do you think this is about money.

>> this morning, attorney generals from 31 states are demanding action sending this letter to leading cell phone makers samsung , motorola and microsoft. take all steps necessary to put consumer safety and security ahead of corporate profits. in response, microsoft told us it has features to protect personal information and they're working to address the issue. motorola and samsung declined to comment. if they don't comply, the ag say they'll consider legal action .

>> they can do it the easy way or the hard way. samsung has developed an app that actually locks thieves out of your phone. but experts say that's not enough. you have to pay extra for that app. apple is actually doing a much approximate better job here. if you have an iphone , there's something you can do right now at home for free which we love. it's a setting you may not know about. it can make your phone useless to thieves. i want to show you how to do it. we have an iphone here on the set. let's call it upton big board . home screen, all you do is you hit settings and get into this and then scroll over here to icloud and get into that thing here. hit that scroll down to find my phone. there it is. find my phone has been around for a long time on iphone but on the newer versions if you download the ios 7 operating system, the new one, they have a new feature in find my phone. you click it on and hit okay by the location services. automatically right now no matter how many times the thief f they steal it and wipe it clean and reboot it, you have to type in your apple password to get back into this phone or else it's deactivated. but this is great stuff officials say but they want apple and the other companies to go further, matt. they want it so when you get the phone you don't have to go through this. as easy as that was, it's automatic and that will protect all of us.

>> great information this morning. jeff, thank you very much. let's