ecoATM

ecoATM produces machines, like this one at Security Square Mall, that pays cash for cell phones and other electronics, such as tablets. Critics say these reverse ATMs offer an incentive for thieves. Baltimore City Council will vote Monday on whether to ban the machines. (Yvonne Wenger, Baltimore Sun / September 15, 2013)

The Baltimore City Council voted unanimously Monday to ban automated kiosks that give money on the spot for used electronics — part of an effort to curb cellphone thefts.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake praised the decision.

"Tonight's vote was a step in the right direction for a safer Baltimore," she said in a statement. "These machines have been known to attract criminal activity, making it harder for communities to be safe. I support this ban and additional efforts that government and private industry can make to reduce incidents of crime surrounding these machines and to improve technologies that can permanently deactivate a stolen cell phone—making the device obsolete and reducing the incentive for criminals to steal them."

The machines, called ecoATMs, require individuals selling phones to scan their driver's license, be photographed and provide a thumb print. An ecoATM temporarily operated inside Mondawmin Mall last year, but none is located in the city now. Sixteen machines are located throughout the region, including in Annapolis, Columbia and Owings Mills. EcoATM has 600 reverse vending machines in 40 states.

Luke.Broadwater@baltsun.com

Twitter.com/lukebroadwater