Other manufacturers and providers like Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Google Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Verizon have all pledged to work to curb the cell theft epidemic.
Officials like Jepsen and Lawlor and their counterparts in other states are taking a wait-and-see attitude.
"The sooner it happens, the better," says Lawlor. He says it's clear there should be a technological solution to the problem.
Critics charge that the cell industry has been ignoring the problem for years.
Australia has for years had a security system that uses what amounts to an electronic fingerprint for every cell sold in that country, which allows it to be shut down and service denied if it's stolen. In 2011, Australian officials estimated it had cut cell thefts by at least 25 percent.
The U.S. cell industry has recently started creating its own stolen cell databases. (Several years ago, CTIA, the industry's trade association, insisted the Australian system wouldn't work well because thieves could overwrite the security numbers and the databases were cumbersome and difficult to maintain.)
Another difficulty with the stolen-cell database system is that it apparently won't work outside the U.S., and many stolen smartphones these days are being shipped overseas.
A large part of the problem, says Lawlor, is that cells have become so universal and people are so accustomed to using them all the time no matter where they are or what they're doing.
"If you're walking down the street, talking on your cell, not paying attention to what's going on around you, it's like an invitation," Lawlor points out. "You become a very tempting target."