Parents track down stolen phones in cell phone ATM

A pair of Albuquerque high schoolers and their moms took matters into their own hands when the girls’ cell phones were stolen at school. They tracked the phones and found them where a lot of stolen cell phones are ending up.

These parents say these machines are helping criminals make a quick buck with no consequences. “Just in an effort to make like easier for the criminals we’ve installed these kiosks here where you can get cash for stolen goods,” says Sharee Gariety. 

An ATM machine for old phones, these Albuquerque moms says it’s bad business. 

“I don’t think these machines should even exist. I think it’s a shame that Wal-Mart is even allowing them in their establishments,” says Jessica Baker. 

Thursday, both of their daughters’ iPhones were stolen at Sandia High School. They used “Find My Phone” to track them. 

“It’s leading us to Wal-Mart, we’re getting closer and closer, but we did notice it wasn’t moving…the phone wasn’t moving anywhere,” Gariety says. 

Both women say they didn’t know who they would be confronting at the store.  But as they looked around and called the phones.

“We could hear it inside the machine. Fortunately, we realized we weren’t facing people, we were facing a machine. But at that point, we realized we did need to call police,” Baker says. 

Since the EcoATM is run by a third party, Wal-Mart employees couldn’t open the machine. It wasn’t until Albuquerque police arrived Friday morning, the San Diego-based company remotely unlocked the machine and gave the officers instructions on how to get the phones. 

The women say there aren’t enough measures in place to protect victims of theft. 

“This is promoting bad behavior. This is allowing people to take other people’s property and get money for it…so they should get rid of them,” Baker says. 

The machine does require sellers to put in a driver’s license.  APD says even if the seller is identified, it’s difficult to prove they stole the phone.

These EcoATMs have been an issue nationwide. The City of Baltimore banned them a few years back because of all the stolen phones that were found in them. 
 

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