Smartphones are expensive and can sold for high sums. It's easy to sell a stolen smartphone, because the hot phone can be activated on another network, but not after Halloween for GSM smartphones.
The FCC and CTIA are working with police departments to thwart the black market by a stolen smartphone database, education, remote data wipe and prevention.
Taking smartphones are like taking candy from a baby, the devices are small, worth up to $600 each and can be nabbed from a pocket/purse or coffee house table, easily. They do have unique EMI numbers that will be traced in the future.
About one out of three robberies in the U.S. includes the theft of cellular devices. In New York, about 40 percent of all robberies are cell phones, while in Washington D.C., about 38 percent of robberies deal with cell phones.
Other problems that arise from smartphone theft is identity theft, personal data and access to financial services. The most important thing security analyst, Robert Siciliano, suggests is that you password protect your smartphone. He was able to buy used Android smartphones on Craigslist and retrieve personal data along with porn. Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich has "face unlock" which has been spoofed by photographs.
Wireless providers will create a database or unique smartphone identifying ( (IMEI) numbers to prevent stolen smartphone from being activated and or provided service on their own networks. October 31, 2012 is the date of completion for GSM numbers and November 30, 2013 for LTE. This system will not prevent iPhones to be used for Wi-Fi only with out a cellular carrier.
They are also planning to work internationally to prevent theft and activations across borders.
Members of Congress are planning to introduce legislation that will make it a federal crime to take steps to evade the effective deployment of a stolen phone database, including by tampering with hardware identifiers on wireless devices.