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Calif. leaders push for smartphone kill switch

As cellphone thefts have soared, lawmakers have demanded a kill switch.

Ben Margot/Associated Press/file

As cellphone thefts have soared, lawmakers have demanded a kill switch.

SAN FRANCISCO — Legislation unveiled Friday in California would require smartphones and other mobile devices to have a ‘‘kill switch’’ to render them inoperable if lost or stolen — a move that could be the first of its kind in the country.

State Senator Mark Leno, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, and other elected and law enforcement officials said the bill, if passed, would require mobile devices sold in or shipped to California to have the antitheft devices starting next year.

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Leno and Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner coauthored the bill to be introduced this spring.

Leno called on the wireless industry to step up as smartphone robberies have surged to a record high in California. ‘‘They have a choice. They can either be a part of the problem or part of the solution, especially when there is one readily available,’’ Leno said.

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