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Lawmakers Pressing For Cell Phone Kill Switches

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Andrea Lucia
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NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – Dan Rowe was driving home late one night when he swerved to avoid something in the road and spun out.

“He was knocking on my window asking if I was okay,” Rowe recalled of the first person he saw after the crash.

Rowe rolled down his window for what looked like a Good Samaritan, then saw the stranger pull a gun. “I felt him put something to my head at the same time I reached for my gun in the glove box.” The gun was was fired.

The shot briefly knocked him out, but Rowe says, in that moment, he saw what mattered most. “I saw her,” he said, pointing his 11-year-old daughter, Gianna.

The proud North Texas dad said it was the thought of Gianna’s face that pulled him through.

Immediately Rowe reached for his cell phone to call for her help, but realized his attacker had stolen it. He said it was the, “Only thing he took.”

With no other choice, Rowe drove 18 miles to a hospital, with a bullet fragment still in his head.

According to Dallas Police Chief Gil Garza, cell phones are one of the most commonly stolen items.

“Everyone seems to have a cell phone, and it’s probably the most expensive piece of property they carry.”

While it may be ‘just’ a cell phone that’s taken the robberies can sometimes get violent.

“They do happen at gunpoint, knife-point, while you’re walking to the store, walking to your car,” Garza said.

The Federal Communications Commission estimates that between 30- and 40-percent of robberies now involve cell phones, and in New York and California, lawmakers are ready to fight back.

California State Senator Mark Leno said, “We have seen an explosion in this crime. In fact a market shift, literally a market shift, in criminal behavior.”

Last week Senator Leno revealed legislation that would require cell phones to be sold with a kill switch. The option would allow owners to shut the devices down if stolen.

Leno believes the switch would remove a thief’s incentive to steal your phone. “Chances are it’s going to be worth nothing more than a brick,” he said.

Rowe isn’t sure what would have stopped his attacker, but he’s grateful he survived and so is his daughter.

Imagining what could have happened Gianna said, “I couldn’t even imagine not having my dad.  It’d be really, really hard.”

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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