EcoATMs are machines used to recycle cellphones. They are quickly growing in popularity and there are currently more than 400 of them in malls nationwide. In less than 10 minutes a cellphone can be traded in at an ecoATM for up to $300. Unfortunately, this opportunity for quick cash has gotten the attention of cellphone thieves and also enticed others into stealing cellphones, which is a relatively easy crime with a high turnaround.

There is, however, a system in place to stop criminals from using ecoATMs. Before trading the phone in, the person must scan their ID and then an ecoATM employee will verify if the person standing in front of the machine matches the identification. If either the person does not match the ID or the ID does not match the owner of the phone, the transfer will be denied. Denying the transfer just means that the thief cannot exchange the phone for cash at the ecoATM; the criminal can still trade the phone in at a pawnshop or other similar store. A marketer at ecoATM claims that only 5 out of every 10,000 phones found in the average machine are stolen, but the Washington D.C. police department has already tracked at least 200 stolen phones in ecoATMs.

EcoATMs are a new and imperfect device that allow people to trade in their old cellphones for cash. Because of their imperfections, ecoATMs attract thieves looking for speedy return on their latest crime. However, if ecoATM worked out the bugs in their system they could provide a beneficial service that is useful in our technology-driven society.

By Owen Dirkse, Summer Intern