Anti-cellphone muggings project gathering steam

A local initiative to combat cellphone theft is gaining steam. Last week, the Toronto Police Services board told the feds to do something about cellphone muggings.

Police board members voted Thursday to ask the feds to introduce legislation that would force cellphone companies to provide technology that would allow the disabling of stolen cellphones and to work with the wireless providers to facilitate the creation of a cellular device registry.

Regular readers will know that cellphone muggings are the most common street crime in Weston and are very common in Toronto; victims, usually school-age, are forced to hand over their smart phones by groups of thugs.

The fight against this kind of crime is also home grown: Mike Sullivan, our MP, has introduced a bill in the House to do just the things that the TPSB wants. Frances Nunziata put a motion before City Hall to do the same. (Oddly, despite the obvious missing symmetry, Laura Albanese has been absent on this issue. Please see my correction, below. The students at Chaminade have been pushing for this after growing sick of being mugged.

Many other countries have a stolen-cell-phone registry. The USA will have one by the end of the year, and most of Europe and South America have one already.


Laura Albanese contacted me to correct my error. She wrote:

When cellphone theft began to rise in York South-Weston early this year, I began working with community leaders such as Chaminade College Principal Carmine Settino and Larry Colle, who have been instrumental in the formation of the Chaminade Safe Schools Action Team, in order to assist in mobilizing the community.


Along with the officers of 12 Division, Councillor Nunziata, and the Weston Community Police Partnership (WCPP), we began to have regular meetings to discuss what could be done to make our community safer and to conduct safety audits with officers in the surrounding areas.


At this time, I looked into whether I could introduce a Private Member’s Bill to help combat cellphone theft as an MPP. This idea was discussed at meetings with the Chaminade Safe Schools Action Team and the WCPP, but as cellphones are regulated by the CRTC, the issue was clearly Federal.


To this end, I wrote a letter of support for a national federal strategy to our MP, Mike Sullivan, on April 12, 2012, in order to bring the community concerns discussed in these meetings to his attention. I am heartened that this June, he introduced a motion that also speaks to this issue.


I am very supportive of a federal initiative, and that’s why I wrote the letter. While the motion has been introduced and MP Sullivan’s Private Member’s Bill may not be initiated until late next year, I am confident it will generate a great amount of local support and interest. Through the work of our local community leaders and advocates, we may even see change come from the CRTC sooner.


I recently referenced both the community work around this issue and my letter to our MP at Councillor Nunziata’s Crime Town Hall during my community update, which one of your writer’s, Roy Murray attended. I would like to thank him for writing about my Private Member’s Bill which is receiving a great deal of support in York South-Weston, and would really help with another issue faced by residents of York South-Weston.


Finally, as recently as last week, I was at the Toronto Police Services Board meeting you discuss in this article to give a deputation in support of Councillor Nunziata’s motion for the federal government to introduce legislation to combat cellphone theft which passed unanimously.

I apologize. I was not present at the TPSB meeting, and I did not know that Ms Albanese spoke in support, nor did I know that Ms Albanese was working behind the scenes to push this issue forward.


Author: Adam Norman

I am raising my two children in Weston.

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