Carriers and police join forces to block stolen phones in U.S.
Mobile phone theft is a major problem. It’s a side effect of our ever-improving smartphone devices that they become more valuable and, consequently, more of a target for thieves. In New York the police are reporting that more than 40 percent of all robberies involve cell phones and in San Francisco it’s closer to 50 percent. The good news is that a new database system which will involve carriers and police working together will enable the carriers to block stolen phones on their networks.
The problem with the old system was that the focus was the SIM card. All a thief had to do was replace the SIM and they could use the stolen phone or sell it on. The new system is going to target the IMEI number which is unique to each and every handset out there. That means it won’t be easy for criminals to sell on those stolen phones.
We reported on the creation of a nationwide database back in April and it is finally coming together. AT&T and T-Mobile will be using a joint database and Verizon and Sprint will have a separate system because their network technology is different. Apparently the big four will have joined forces by the end of the month and a number of smaller carriers will get on board in the near future.
Anyone concerned about losing their smartphone will probably already have some kind of anti-theft or security app installed. It’s also, obviously, a good idea to set up a lock screen PIN or password to make life more difficult for any thief who gets their hands on your phone. There are loads of great security options out there. My top recommendation is Avast Mobile Security.
There are also plans afoot to expand this system and create an international database for stolen phones in order to prevent thieves shipping them abroad to get around the block. This system should make it very tough for thieves to profit from stealing your smartphone and with any luck we’ll see a dramatic fall in the number of thefts involving cell phones.