Local cell phone thieves using recycling kiosks for quick cash

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by KMOV.com Staff | @KMOV

KMOV.com

Posted on December 11, 2013 at 5:57 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 12 at 7:13 AM

(KMOV.com) -- A new way to get quick cash for an old cell phone is proving to be an easy way for thieves to get quick cash.

EcoATM installed more than 300 automated kiosks in malls across the country -- 12 in the st. Louis area—that pay out up to $200 for a used phone.

Unfortunately the kiosks have proven a cash cow for thieves who steal phones.

In two cases, St. Louis County police are investigating thefts that ended with ecoATM cash-outs.

Security features on the kiosks have helped police identify suspects but police tell News 4 the machines can’t always tell if a phone is stolen.

A picture of the seller is taken by the machine, along with their license. EcoATMs also electronically scan the unique identification number of each phone and compare it to databases of stolen phones, but there’s no national database and the kiosk can’t access databases in different states.

A spokesman for the company says they are working to get a national database established.

The company is very cooperative with police department investigations.

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