Government to tackle £4 million mobile theft loophole

A new Government-initiated code of practice will help phone recyclers avoid being sold stolen mobiles.

Mobile

The Government has launched a code of practice designed to close a multi-million pound loophole letting mobile thieves make money from recycling companies.

While the majority of handsets reported stolen in the UK are blocked within 48 hours, rendering them redundant for thieves, the crooks can still sell the phones on to recycling companies.

Firms which sign up to the code of practice will work with the authorities and check details of each mobile they are offered against the national database of all phones reported stolen.

Then the companies can turn down any stolen device and contact the police to pass on details of the person attempting to sell the handset.

At least 100,000 mobiles reported stolen are recycled every year, with each phone worth an average of 40, according to online due diligence specialists Recipero.

This has created an illicit marketplace worth 4 million.

"By joining forces with the police, the mobile phone industry is closing a multi-million pound loophole that has been exploited by criminals and the industry should be congratulated. Alongside the impressive work on blocking stolen phones, this code will make mobile phone theft an even less profitable crime," said crime prevention minister James Brokenshire, who announced the code of practice today.

"The industry welcomes this very important initiative on the part of the recyclers. It not only closes off an avenue used by criminals to gain from theft of mobile phones, it also demonstrates those recyclers who have signed up to the scheme are serious in their efforts to support the continuing battle against mobile phone theft," said Jack Wraith, chairman of the Mobile Industry Crime Action Forum.

The Telecommunications Fraud Forum will be responsible for administering the code of practice, which has already attracted the support of 20 companies including Mazuma Mobile, Royal Mail, the Carphone Warehouse and Virgin Media.

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