Cell Phone Theft Could Be Felony Under Law Change


Ohio could become the first state in the country to make stealing a cell phone a felony.

"For many people right now, their life is their cell phone," said Franklin County prosecutor Ron O'Brien.  "Police are finding the cell phones ripe objects for theft and fraud."

Suspects arrested for stealing a cell phone, or other electronic devices like a laptop or tablet, could face a 5th degree felony charge.

"Pretty much my entire life is on my cell phone," said Megan Kromer, a first year student at The Ohio State University.  "All my contacts, my bank information, things like that - someone who took my phone would access to all of it and that's my life."

Megan said a misdemeanor is no longer enough punishment when a cell phone is stolen.

"At first thought, I think a felony is kind of extreme, but then after really thinking about it, how much personal information they are taking from me, all of my personal information. I do think definitely it should be a felony charge," said Megan.

Right now, cell phones and other electronic devices must be worth at least $1,000 in order to trigger a felony charge.  O’Brien said most cell phones sell for less than that.

"The theft of a gun is automatically a felony without regard to value.  The same thing is true with credit cards," said O'Brien.  "The credit card is really nothing more than a piece of plastic.  So this bill is designed to put cell phones into the category of guns and credit cards."

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