Calling time on mobile crime in West Yorkshire
November 2nd, 2003
The mobile phone industry and West Yorkshire Police, backed by the Home Office, today unveil an ‘Immobilise Phone Crime’ initiative in Leeds to clamp down on mobile phone crime.
Spearheaded by leading mobile phone retailers The Carphone Warehouse and The Link the initiative will involve a massive advertising campaign which spreads the message:
“Stolen Phones Don’t Work Any More”
The £100,000 advertising campaign will include high profile advertising on bus shelters, billboards, bus interiors and railway stations – and is one of the the biggest advertising campaigns in the region, paid for by the mobile phone industry.
All UK mobile phone networks now share information on a single database and once reported stolen or lost, mobile phones can be automatically blocked across all UK networks, making them useless even if the SIM card has been changed
The mobile phone industry has also launched an informative website, http://www.immobilise.com and set up a new phone line to facilitate the reporting of lost and stolen handsets – 08701 123 123.
The launch of the initiative in Leeds today coincides with the announcement that since the central database was set up in November 2002, one million mobile phones have been reported lost or stolen and have been blocked across all UK networks.
The Immobilise campaign is supported by a police crack down on criminals under the Mobile Telephones (Re-programming) Act. This legislation enables the police to arrest criminals fuelling the trade in stolen mobile phones, with penalties of up to five years in prison for those convicted of reprogramming mobile phones.
The Immobilise Mobile Phone Crime advertising campaign is part of an ongoing programme by the mobile phone industry, the police and the Government to clamp down on mobile phone theft.
As part of the campaign the majority of mobile phone retailers, including leading chains such as The Carphone Warehouse, The Link, Phones 4U and the networks’ own outlets, will be putting up stickers, posters and leaflets in their stores across West Yorkshire, urging victims of mobile phone crime to report their loss and to help stop stolen mobiles being sold on.
Jack Wraith, Chief Executive of MICAF (Mobile Industry Crime Action Forum), the body that represents the mobile phone industry in the UK in relation to handset security and crime, said: “This campaign demonstrates the industry’s commitment in working with government, police and our customers in tackling the issue of mobile phone theft and loss.
“It brings to the customer’s attention the need to report the loss or theft of their phone, so the criminal can no longer gain from a lost or stolen mobile phone. The message is also aimed at the person who may be tempted to buy such a phone - don’t; it will not work once it has been reported lost or stolen.”
In West Yorkshire there were almost 5,000 offences of robbery in 2002-03. However, through the Government-funded street crime initiative, West Yorkshire recorded a reduction in street robbery of almost 13% (12.8). Mobile phone theft still accounts for a significant proportion of robbery, typically between a quarter and a third.
Detective Supt. Ian Wilson, who is heading the street crime campaign in West Yorkshire said: “Mobile phone theft continues to account for a significant number of robberies. As well as targeting offenders, we also need to educate people how to disable their phone if it is stolen. We hope this campaign will help raise awareness that a phone can be made useless quite easily.”
For more detail about the new scheme, the mobile phone industry has launched a new website: http://www.immobilise.com.
To contact the Immobilise Press Office: telephone: 020 8834 3437
Notes for editors:
1. The Immobilise Phone Crime initiative kicks off across West Yorkshire with a high impact advertising campaign including bus shelter posters, billboards, bus interior posters, and railway station posters.
2. The Mobile Telephones (Re-programming) Act 2002 came into force on 4th October 2002, and makes offences of:
* Changing, without the authorisation of the manufacturer, the unique identifying characteristic of a mobile phone – the IMEI number; and
* Possessing, supplying or offering to supply the necessary equipment with the intent to use it for re-programming mobile phones.
The offences carry maximum penalties of five years’ imprisonment or unlimited fines or both.
3. The shared database of lost and stolen phones or CEIR (Central Equipment Identity Register) makes it possible to bar mobile phone handsets across all networks once a phone has been reported stolen or lost to the individual’s mobile phone network operator. The Central Equipment Identity Register is a shared database of blacklisted International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) handset numbers. All mobile phone network operators in the UK will disable the phone by reference to the unique IMEI number of the handset. This means that the handset itself (not just the SIM card which can easily be swapped) will be barred and will be unusable on any network, even if a new SIM card is inserted.
4. The full list of Immobilise Phone Crime funders is: Metropolitan Police; The Carphone Warehouse; The Link; 3; Motorola; Nokia; O2; One.Tel; Orange; Phones4U; Samsung; Siemens; Sony Ericsson; T-mobile; Virgin Mobile and Vodafone.