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The UK's outgoing Home Secretary John Reid told US consumer electronics kingpins today that if they spent as much time turning their products into crime-stopping gadgets as they did making them look nice and work well, we might wash petty crime from our streets.

Reid, who has been courting industry groups of late, leaves his job in 10 days.

"If the same level of human ingenuity and technical skill that brings such innovative, exciting products to the marketplace were applied to the problem of designing out crime, the results would be nothing short of revolutionary," he told US corporate bigwigs at the Crime Commission breakfast forum in New York.

"We must grasp this exciting opportunity to nip crime in the bud and save millions of pounds by making anti-crime features as important as any other design element," he said in a statement about the speech.

Mobile manufacturers attended a Home Office summit last month to ponder the question of how highly desirable consumer gadgets might be made thief proof to discourage theft.

He did, however, note that US competitors "Samsung, Panasonic, NEC, and HTC" were "conspicuous in their absence".

Reid has asked industry to design consumer gadgets that are operated by biometric scanners so they can't be used by thieves, and also to design products that have the "maximum forensic value" for police. ®

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