MPD Chief Cathy Lanier has been calling on the FCC to allow customers to have their phones rendered unusable after they get stolen. The idea is that it will deter thieves from stealing phones if they know the phones will be useless—”bricked”—as soon as the owner calls their wireless provider.

The Post reports that the FCC joined Lanier today in announcing major carriers have signed on to the effort, and the service should be available to subscribers within six months:

Lanier said she welcomes the industry move, since her police agency and others around the country have been inundated with cellphone robbery reports in recent years. She said the effort is a sign that local, federal and legislative officials can be effective in combating common problems, particularly when partnering with commercial interests.

“I would like it be in place yesterday, but for a problem that has been in place for some many years, I think [the effort is] huge,” Lanier said. “We all have to do our part. This is our society saying we’re not going to take it anymore.”

D.C. police faced a rash of robbery reports between October and February. At the height of the trend, officials said that 58 percent of robberies involved smartphones. Through undercover operations, increased targeting of robberies and other tactics, Lanier said that only about 34 percent of robberies now involve phones.

Photo by Matt Dunn