California senator Mark Leno and San Francisco district attorney George Gascón have introduced legislation that would force the installation of killswitches on local hardware.
The software would be called into use if a phone is lost or stolen, allowing users to switch off the phone so it is unusable. This would limit any associated bill costs, and make phone theft a less appealing proposition.
Leno said: "One of the top catalysts for street crime in many California cities is smartphone theft, and these crimes are becoming increasingly violent.
"We cannot continue to ignore our ability to utilise existing technology to stop cell phone thieves in their tracks. It is time to act on this serious public safety threat to our communities."
The bill will be formally announced next year, and follows moves in the same direction by other states such as New York.
In their statement the pair said cell phone thefts make up around 40 percent of all nationwide robberies, and the figure is as high as 50 percent in San Francisco. They added that they do not want to sit by while solutions that would easily deal with the problem are ignored.
Gascón said: "I appreciate the efforts that many of the manufacturers are making, but the deadline we agreed upon is rapidly approaching and most do not have a technological solution in place.
"Californians continue to be victimised at an alarming rate, and this legislation will compel the industry to make the safety of their customers a priority."
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