The feds have teamed up with law enforcement and the wireless industry to curb the theft of cellphones by essentially rendering them useless once pilfered and fingering the thieves if they try to activate them. U.S. mobile operators will ban any phone or 3G/4G tablet reported stolen from their networks and will work together to ensure that thieves don’t simply transfer stolen devices to a competitor’s service.

According to the Federal Communications Commission, roughly 40 percent of all robberies in major metropolitan cities involve cellphone theft, with criminals specifically targeting high-end devices like the iPhone(s aapl), tablets and other smartphones.  “This endangers the physical safety of people all over the country,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski at a D.C. press conference Tuesday morning.

The FCC will work with U.S. operators to set up their individual databases, which will track unique device identifying numbers, and with the CTIA, the major carrier trade…

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