Government moves against mobile phone theft

14th October 2013

A UK Government summit with mobile phone manufacturers has led to the investigation of new initiatives to reduce the theft of handsets, says the Home Office.

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These include new security features to make handsets less attractive to thieves, as well as a new online advice service.

The move comes after Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker, shown here, met industry leaders from companies including Samsung, Google, Apple, Nokia and BlackBerry to consider new action against the growing problem.

The government agreed to look at ways to support the efforts being made by the industry. These include encouraging the public to make better use of their devices’ security features with, for example, an online advice service which would give people ideas on how to better protect their phones.

Mobile phones are becoming an increasingly attractive target for criminals, with more than 800,000 stolen in the past year in England and Wales. Some devices can be sold for hundreds of pounds overseas, where the newest models are not yet available. According to the Home Office, the UK is a world leader in responding to this type of crime, with the industry and the police working together to block stolen phones within 48 hours – stopping them being re-used in this country and reducing their value. At the meeting, manufacturers outlined a range of new security features they are adding to phones which will make it harder for criminals to use stolen handsets.

Mr Baker said: "Mobile phone technology is changing all the time and we need innovative solutions to ensure we get ahead of criminals. I want to make mobile phone theft as difficult as possible and this meeting with telecom leaders is an important step forward."

A Samsung spokesperson said: "Samsung is pleased to be supporting the UK government in its goal to reduce the serious issue of mobile phone crime theft. Samsung phones already have features such as ‘Find My Mobile’ which gives people control over how their devices are used if lost or stolen, as well as ‘Reactivation Lock’ on new mobile devices which prevents a reset of the device if it isn’t recovered." He continued: "Samsung strongly encourages everyone to use the features available on their device to protect it in the event that it is lost or stolen and we are continuing to explore new and innovative ways to prevent the use of stolen devices."

A spokesperson from Nokia added: "Nokia have a long history of working with governments, operators and retailers to reduce the theft of mobile phones, it is good to see this renewed focus on protecting users."


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