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Oakland Looks To Ban Cell Phone Kiosks To Deter Thefts

OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- Oakland is looking to ban what some say is an easy way for thieves to cash in on stolen cell phones.

Cell phone robberies have nearly doubled in just four years in Oakland, from 1,600 in 2009 to nearly 3,400 in 2013.

City Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney wants to ban cell phone kiosks, where users can trade in old cell phones for cash.

"They're an easy way for these criminals to make quick cash. These automated purchasing machines are extremely easy to access. They're located near public transit and in the malls, where no one's watching while you go up and try to sell your cell phone," Casey Farmer, a Policy Analyst with McElhaney's office said.

Oakland Councilwoman Wants To Ban Cell Phone Kiosks To Deter Theft

The fear at Oakland City Hall is that the number of stolen phones will go even higher.

Farmer added one of the kiosk companies, ecoATM, owned by the same company as Redbox and Coinstar,  ships the cell phones overseas and "makes a lot of money off of it."

Oakland's Public Safety Committee will discuss the proposed ban at next week's meeting. Farmer said a council majority supports the ban.

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