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      Cell phone theft spikes in Syracuse in recent years

      United States Senator Charles Schumer announced legislation today that would make it more difficult to sell stolen cell phones on the black market.

      Schumer said that since 2011, cell phone thefts in the City of Syracuse are up 64%. Schumer??s new legislation would make tampering with the unique identification number of a cell phone a federal offense.

      The Federal Communications Commission took strides last year to try and cut down cell phone theft by pairing with major cell phone carriers to create a database to track the identification numbers of stolen cell phones.

      All stolen cell phones are registered with the database, and cell phone companies can permanently disable these cell phones once they are reported stolen. Thieves have been tampering with the unique identification numbers of the stolen cell phones in order to avoid detection from the registry.

      Schumer said the new legislation would make it a federal crime to tamper with the ID numbers by imposing a multi-year criminal penalty on cell phone thieves.

      Schumer said cell phone thefts have risen from 22% of all robbery-related crime in 2011 to 35% in 2013.