Baltimore’s Problem with EcoATMs Makes National News

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Baltimore got a shout out on NPR’s “All Things Considered” a couple days ago. Unfortunately, it was about crime.

The story is about ecoATMs. They’re a convenient way to receive cash for recycling your old phone, mp3 player, or tablet. They’re also causing a spike in cell phone theft in Baltimore, or so it seems.

Despite the fact that customers looking to trade their electronic devices for cash must first verify their identity with a valid ID card and a thumbprint, stolen cell phones from Baltimore city can sometimes wind up in one of the several EcoATMs around the Baltimore beltway.

City Council member Bill Henry introduced a bill banning the machines within city limits back in June. The reverse vending machines got negative press from D.C.’s police chief around the same time.

By the way, the company fired back, painting the kiosks as a boon for law enforcement (given their detailed transaction records), while at the same time claiming that fewer than 1 out of every 4,000 phones deposited in an ecoATM is later reported lost or stolen.



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