Atrice Williams remembers vividly the night her smartphone was stolen.
"I cried for a very long time about that, because you work very long for that, and there's status about owning an iPhone," Williams, a D.C. resident, said.
Williams and an increasing number of D.C. residents have become victims of cellphone bandits.
Some of the nation's top police chiefs hope a new plan announced Tuesday will stop the trend. Working with the country's four major cellphone carriers, soon, any smartphone stolen anywhere in the U.S. would be disabled. Right now, a thief can easily remove a SIM card (which contains all of the phone's information) and return the phone to the black market.
Because of the new plan, "you're not gonna be able to find a lot of phones on Craigslist," said D.C. resident Ramon Zerturche.
"If I had my phone stolen, I'd definitely want it to be no good," said D.C. resident Nathaniel Brady.
Last year, more than 1,600 robberies in the district involved cellphonesa 54 percent increase since 2007. Police Chief Cathy Lanier spearheaded the effort, saying, in many cases, cellphone robberies lead to more violent crimes. "It's a huge deal, my job is to save lives and this is putting lives in jeopardy. It's the biggest deal I have," Lanier said.
The new system is expected to be up and running within the next six months in the states. Within a year and half, those stolen phones, will be worthless on the black market in other countries as well.