Two industry giants put their cellphones to the test Thursday in San Francisco.
Officals wanted to see if a software kill switch can render the phones useless, making them less desirable to thieves.
It seems as if everyone in San Francisco has a smartphone, although not everyone is able to hold onto it.
Police in San Francisco say about half the thefts in the city involve a cellphone. Many people don't realize they could easily they can be stolen.
"I just use it. I feel pretty safe in San Francisco, so I don't think anyone's going to snatch my phone," said SF resident Daniel Baskind.
District Attorney George Gascon said that's not necessarily true and that cellphone makers bear some of the responsibility.
Thursday, he called in a tech task force to test out new Apple and Samsung security software that is designed to make stolen phones useless in the black market.
The experts evaluated Lojack software for Samsung's Galaxy s4, which can remotely lock the phone and erase personal data.
They also tested an Apple iPhone 5, which has what's called an Activation Lock that requires the users Apple id and password to use the device.
"I think what's really important here is for the first time, the major smartphone manufacturers are actually viewing theft as a problem that they feel is part of their responsibility," said Cryptography Research president Paul Kocher.
Police Chief Greg Suhr said consumers must do their part too.
The department has partnered with Luxor cabs to run a video warning folks to be careful using their cellphones.
"I've said it 'til I'm blue in the face. You would not walk down the street counting two or three hundred dollars and not paying attention. That's exactly what you're doing when you're walking down the street not paying attention and just focusing on your cellphone," said Suhr.
Tech analysts say there will likely remain a booming black market for cellphone parts even if new security features ensure those phones can't be used to make calls.
Watchdogs are questioning an exclusive agreement between the City of Oakland and a non-profit group, tapped to lead a multi-million dollar project to redevelop the area around the Coliseum BART station.