News story

Mobile phone companies join Home Office fight against phone theft

Home Office is working with phone companies to make mobile phone handsets harder to steal.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Mobile phone keypad

A Home Office summit to tackle the growing number of mobile phone thefts has stepped up work to look at how security features can be used to make handsets less attractive to thieves, Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker has announced.

A new online advice service is among options being considered by the Home Office, working with the industry, in a bid to tackle mobile phone theft.

The move comes after the minister met industry leaders including Samsung, Google, Apple, Nokia and BlackBerry to consider new action against the growing problem.

Mobile phone crime

The government agreed to look at ways to support industry efforts, including encouraging the public to make more use of their phone’s security features – this included looking into launching an online advice service which would give people ideas on how to better protect their phone.

The UK is a world leader in responding to mobile phone crime, with the industry and the police having worked together to block stolen phones within 48 hours – stopping them being re-used in this country and making them less valuable. 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.

Mobile phone theft

Mobile phones are becoming an increasingly attractive target for thieves, with more than 800,000 stolen in the past year alone across England and Wales. Handsets can be sold for hundreds of pounds overseas, where the newest models are not yet available.

Crime Prevention Minister, Norman Baker, said:

Recorded crime is down by more than 10% under this government but we are seeing signs of an increase in theft from the person, mainly smartphones.

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.

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 Nokia spokesperson 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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Published 11 October 2013