New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is prodding the nation's top smartphone makers to help battle what his office described in a press release this week as a "rise in violent street crimes" related to theft of the increasingly ubiquitous devices.

His office uses the term "Apple Picking" and says that in New York City, theft of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) products has "driven much of the increase in the theft of electronics," with 11,447 cases of stolen iDevices reported between Jan. 1 and Sept. 23, 2012, a rise of 3,280 over the previous year. That's a 40% increase. And it isn't limited to Apple products.

"The thieves wipe the devices' memories clean and resell them for hundreds of dollars on the secondary market," said the AG's office. "Too often, those crimes turn violent, and even deadly."

Schneiderman has sent letters to the CEOs of Apple, Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) and its hardware subsidiary Motorola Mobility, Samsung (NASDAQOTH:SSNLF), and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), requesting their help in these efforts. Schneiderman's letters also inquire as to whether those firms have benefited financially from the sale of replacement phones to victims of theft.

Citing a study conducted by research firm Lookout, the AG's office said that lost and stolen cell phones cost users more than $30 billion in 2012.