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It might look like a walkie talkie, but that little box is more powerful than you think. When a cell phone jammer is turned on it can block any cell phone service in the area. Using one isn't only a federal crime but it could result in a $16,000 fine and jail time.
But that didn't stop Eric, a man in Philadelphia, who was fed up with the chatty cell phone talkers on the SEPTA 44 bus. According to NBC 10 in Philadelphia, Eric would fire up that very jammer when he didn't want to hear the conversations.
"A lot of people are extremely loud, no sense of just privacy or anything. When it becomes a bother, that's when I screw on the antenna and flip the switch," Eric told NBC 10.
Eric claimed that he didn't know it was illegal to block a cell phone signal, and thought it was a "gray area." He said he was under the impression that it was only illegal when blocking television or radio signals.
But even so, he wasn't very apologetic about his actions.
"I guess I'm taking the law into my own hands and, quite frankly, I'm proud of it," he told NBC 10.
Jammers like the one used in this case are illegal for reasons including that they could prevent cell phone communication in emergencies and because they can block other important signals such as police radio and other two-way radios.
Since finding out it is illegal, Eric said he planned to dispose of the jammer he bought, which ABC News estimated cost $300.
But the bigger issue is that Eric isn't alone in this jamming practice.
Jammers are easy to buy at sites like phonejammer.com and jammerall.com, and Forbes reported that others in the New Jersey and New York area are using them, as well. Maybe Eric's story will remind them all of just how illegal using that powerful device is.