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US Plans to Block Reuse of Stolen Cellphones

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is interviewed in his office in Washington, March 2010. (file photo)

The United States is creating a computerized list of stolen cellphones, part of a new campaign to curb their theft.

Cellphone use is widespread in the U.S., but theft of the costly handheld devices is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world's largest economy. The government's Federal Communications Commission says it has reached an agreement, though, with major wireless communications companies to create the database of stolen phones and eventually stop their reuse.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said the agency is seeking "to reduce the value of stolen smartphones."

Currently, two of the biggest wireless carriers, Verizon and Sprint Nextel, block the reactivation of stolen phones, but two other companies, AT&T and Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile, do not. Now, all four have agreed to the anti-theft plan.

Within six months, the carriers will prevent reuse of the stolen phones on their current networks. In about a year and a half, the goal is to block reactivation on any network

Some information for this report was provided by AP.