The ecoATM... a quick, easy way to get cash for your old smart-phone or tablet device. It's an ATM-like machine by the food court of the University Mall in South Burlington. Customers deposit their worn-out or unused gadgets inside and the machine spits out money.
But with the good, comes the bad. "We started to notice a lot of the same people selling a lot of phones and a lot of them we noticed were newer phones, which is when we realized that we definitely had to pay more attention. We started running the serial numbers and starting to find they were stolen," said South Burlington Police Det. Ron Bliss.
South Burlington Police say cell phone thefts are up and they believe it's due to the instant cash from the machine. The ecoATM has it's ways of sorting out criminals from the honest customer, but detectives say there are still those selling stolen property. "People have used a different ID then the person who's actually standing in front of it. It's not as fool proof as it could be," Det. Bliss said.
The ecoATM snaps a picture of every customer exchanging a phone for money, along with asking for your photo ID and fingerprint, so while criminals may think it's a quick and easy way to get cash, it may be a quick and easy way to get caught.
In a statement ECO-ATM said: "No one else in the industry partners with the authorities like ecoATM."
But even with these security measures, police have their doubts. "The problem for us is all those people are coming here to our mall to use that machine and I don't think it's worth the benefit," Det. Bliss said.
Both ecoATM and police say people should always report a theft if it occurs, to help catch the thieves.