Stolen phone crackdownMobile companies unveil new move to combat thefts

28 July 2006

 

A mobile phone.

Britain’s mobile phone networks are joining forces to combat the growing problem of mobile phone theft.

Vodafone, O2, T Mobile, Orange and 3 have signed up to a new charter pledging to blacklist 80 per cent of stolen phones within 48 hours of the theft being reported. And for the first time the mobile phone networks will be measured on how quickly they block stolen handsets.

The theft of phones and other expensive electronic equipment is thought to be behind an 8 per cent rise in robbery cases last year.

Home Secretary John Reid welcomed the announcement from the networks and also pledged £1.35 million for a new National Mobile Phone Crime Unit.

IMEI number

He added: ‘The message to the criminals is that mobile phone theft is now a useless occupation, because the handsets themselves will be useless within a very short period of time. If you steal mobiles you will not be able to sell them.’

The five mobile companies share information on stolen handsets and use the phone's unique IMEI (international mobile equipment identity) number to block their use on all networks.

Currently, between 20,000 and 30,000 handsets are blocked every day but figures from last year indicate that only 30 per cent of phones were blacklisted within three days.