Plans announced to tackle mobile phone robbery

Around 80% of stolen mobile phone handsets will be blocked on all five UK networks within 48 hours of being reported stolen, industry leaders have pledged.

The pledge is part of a charter, developed by the government, the police, the Mobile Industry Crime Action Forum (MICAF) and mobile phone industry leaders, which aims to reduce mobile phone crime.

Commenting on the charter, MICAF Chair Jack Wraith said: "The charter clearly sets out the key steps the industry will take to help cut mobile phone theft further so as to ensure that people can continue to use their phones, safe in the knowledge that measures are in place that will make them worthless to thieves if they are stolen.

"The charter also documents the importance of consumer awareness and the need for people to register their phones, so as to increase the chances of their phone being returned safely should it be recovered after being lost or stolen.

"The industry has already achieved a great deal, being the first in the world to introduce, in conjunction with the GSM Association, a central database which enables the exchange of information on those handsets reported as stolen by customers thus enabling them to be blocked across all UK networks. Also, in conjunction with our other partners, we have raised consumer awareness to help them help us and prevent their phones being stolen in the first place.

Home Secretary John Reid has welcomed the charter and pledged £1.35 million funding for a national centre of excellence - the National Mobile Phone Crime Unit - in order to help disrupt stolen phone markets.

Mr Reid said: "I welcome this commitment by the mobile phone industry leaders, to make mobile phones less attractive to thieves and demonstrate their clear commitment to their customers' safety.

"I believe the public should be free to carry valuable items, such as mobile phones and MP3 players, on the streets without fear of becoming a target for robbers."


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