WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- DC Police Chief Cathy Lanier told a WTOP radio audience Thursday she thinks automated vending machines that offer instant cash for used cell phones are contributing to the problem of cell phone theft. "Many of the phones are stolen," she said.
ecoATM has installed the machines in area malls, although has none in the District of Columbia. The automated machines require a government-issued ID, which will be checked by a human being watching images of the person using the machine, and requires a thumb print as well. Phones are compared to a stolen phone data base.
ecoATM Director of Marketing Ryan Kuder told WUSA 9 that it sees only one stolen phone in every four or five thousand transactions, nationwide.
Since the company began service in the DC area last September,Kuder says it has seen only four or five stolen phones among the moire than seven thousand transactions it has made in the area.
"In fact, three of which we've been able to return to their rightful owners within three weeks, and a fourth which is still pending," he said.
Nationwide Kuder says there are 300 million used cell phones that are not in service. When purchasing unused phones, the company is able to recycle about 60 percent of the parts for use in new phones, and harvests the precious metals in the remaining phones, keeping the hazardous materials out of landfills.
"I am working with the company and they have been cooperative but I think this is not a good system. I'm sure it's increasing the problem," Lanier is quoted as saying on WTOP.