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Retired San Diego police chief William Lansdowne has joined a controversial firm named ecoATM. The company installs ATM-like receptacles that pay instant cash for cell phones.

Trouble is, law-enforcement officials were saying last year that the ATMs were stimulating cell-phone theft.

"It's a motivator for the criminal element," Cathy Lanier, Washington DC's police chief, told NBC's Today.com in May 2013. "I can knock you down and steal your phone, find an ecoATM, I can get up to $300 in cash for that phone," said Lanier.

EcoATM has a so-called safety system: users insert their driver's license and the machine takes their picture to be sure that users are who they say they are. But Today.com tested that system and found it didn't work. A company spokesman said sometimes the machine can mess up.

EcoATM announced Lansdowne's hiring on Wednesday, June 11. He was chief of the San Diego Police Department for 11 years.

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Comments

shirleyberan June 14, 2014 @ 3:55 p.m.

So you're saying an ex-police chief should have considered the rise in armed robberies of cell phones.

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Don Bauder June 14, 2014 @ 8:09 p.m.

shirleyberan: EcoATM sends out all kinds of news releases saying how much the company helps police capture cell phone thieves. But law enforcement officers often say these devices produce crime. Best, Don Bauder

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Visduh June 14, 2014 @ 4:51 p.m.

His record as chief was poor and is getting worse as more is revealed about all the messes within the department. Even the Mill is on the expose trail now, and has stopped making excuses for wrongdoing within the department. So, this sort of thing isn't out of character for him at all. He always was a hack, and this is just a way of making a few bucks doing something that offers no real value. And one more reason to think long and hard before getting an expensive smart phone.

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Don Bauder June 14, 2014 @ 8:10 p.m.

Visduh: I agree. He did not have a good record in San Diego, and as you point out, his reign looks worse as new information comes out. Best, Don Bauder

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Jimgee June 16, 2014 @ 4:20 p.m.

I still wish he had been arrested and prosecuted for failing to execute Aguirre's search warrant on Sunroad.

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Don Bauder June 16, 2014 @ 4:24 p.m.

Jimgee: I agree. The judge signed the search warrant. Lansdowne did not deliver it. That was a crime. But this is San Diego. Mayor Jerry Sanders was trying to get Sunroad's owner, a donor to the Sanders campaign, off the hook. Best, Don Bauder

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jnojr June 17, 2014 @ 4:17 p.m.

How does the machine know that the drivers license inserted didn't belong to the theft victim and the picture it takes isn't of someone wearing a mask?

I'm a huge believer in free markets, but this machine does seem to pose far more of a problem than it's worth.

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Don Bauder June 17, 2014 @ 4:50 p.m.

jnojr: The company claims it has a team of people who verify in real time that the person who is standing in front of the machine is the person who who put in the license. However, Today.com found instances in which it didn't work. Best, Don Bauder

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