Few items are as attractive to a would-be thief as a Smartphone. One Wilson County woman recently found out the hard way when her iPhone was stolen.
Tai Hall, a special education teacher, said she was shopping two weeks ago with her mom and sister at Opry Mills Mall when she noticed her iPhone 4 was missing.
"My cell phone went missing from my purse," she recalled. "I have an app to track it, so I track it to the middle of the Opry Mills food court. There's a machine that takes cell phones and gives you money. I alerted my phone and I heard it ringing in the machine, so I know it's there."
The machine, made by ecoATM, is described by the company's Web site as an automated, consumer, self-serve kiosk that quickly evaluates and buys back used electronics directly from the consumer for cash.
The purpose of the machine is to help recycle hundreds of thousands of old cell phones.
The Web site states the company has machines locally at the Opry Mills, Rivergate, Stones River and Governors Square malls.
According to ecoATM, every cell phone seller must provide a driver's license and a thumb print, which is electronically recorded and made available to police as part of the transaction.
Hall, however, said she does not believe the machines are a good idea, especially if anyone can sell phones.
"I really want people to know this machine exists and it is awful," she said. "Without the app, I'd never [get my phone] back. I don't like that anyone can pick up a phone, theirs or not, put it in there and immediately get cash."
Metro police told Nashville's News 2 Quan Fisher is the man who sold Hall's phone at the kiosk.
The 18-year-old is charged with theft of property and was identified as the seller of the device by ecoATM technology.
Company officials said they shared all of Fisher's information, which he supplied when he sold the phone, with police working the case.
By phone, Nashville's News 2 Investigates spoke with Fisher, who said he is not a thief and that he believes he was conned by a another woman who got him to sell the phone for her by using his fingerprint and identification.
"All I did was give my ID and my thumb print and my picture," he said. "I didn't get any money out of it. I thought she was trying to get some money together to buy herself an iPhone. I didn't think it was stolen."
Fisher said the woman he helped sell the phone is around 27 years old, five feet, three inches tall and has blond hair with glasses.
He added that he didn't know the woman, but she had been hanging around the mall where he worked.
"I happened to be dumb. That messed me up. I mean, I made a dumb decision. I am paying the price for it," Fisher said. "I am not a thief. [I've] never stole anything in my life. I have no record. Well, now I do, but I do because of this."
Nashville's News 2 Investigates asked Metro police about Fisher's assertion there was another person involved in selling the stolen electronic.
Officials in the public information office said Fisher did not raise that concern when he was arrested.
By phone, ecoATM told Nashville's News 2 Investigates their company is very law enforcement friendly and they are proactive in working with police all over the country.
"One thing we can do is reach out to police," Director of Marketing and Communications Ryan Kuder said. "What we're going to do is be cooperative with police. There are dozens of places in Nashville right now to get cash and sell stolen cell phones and there will be no questions asked."
He continued, "But If a thief sells a stolen phone at an ecoATM, they have increased the chances of returning that stolen phone by about 100%. If a stolen phone is found in an ecoATM we give the phone back at our own expense. We are victims, too. We pay the shipping costs and the cost of the phone that we bought."
As to why Hall's phone has not been returned to her, Kuder said, "Our machine is an ATM. It has cash. It has phones in it. It is highly secured. It has a lot of security features. You just don't pop them open in mall. It could be a danger, making someone a target."
According to Kuder, Americans buy 150 million new phones per year, while many people have five or six old phones lying around at home.
He said the goal of ecoATM is to serve as an easy and convenient way for people to recycle their old devices.
He added that the company recycles thousands of phones per day and that one in 1,500 sold phones are reported lost or stolen.