WHITE PLAINS - There's a new call to make cellphone theft a federal crime.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) announced the plan yesterday outside the federal courthouse in White Plains.

A national database already tracks stolen cellphones, but Schumer says thieves replace SIM cards or alter the unique ID numbers to circumvent the list.

This new bill would create stiffer penalties. "By making it a federal crime, you really will be able to throw the book at these guys so when they catch them, they can turn them over to the federal authorities and they get much greater jail time," says Schumer.

If the bill passes, cellphone thieves face up to five years in prison for tampering with phones.