The US Government has come to an agreement with major US carriers to establish a cross-organizational database to keep tabs devices that have been lost or stolen. When a customer reports a lost or stolen device, the carriers will update the database and effectively flag that handset. If and when somebody tries to activate a blacklisted device, the carriers will deny voice or data activation. The goal is to dramatically reduce the value of these black market devices and make it harder for thieves to resell them. For some time, Sprint & Verizon have made the effort to share flagged device information but AT&T and Deutch Telecom AG’s T-Mobile USA haven’t. This initiative will tie all their information together for the first time.
I read about this and wondered how big of a deal mobile phone theft is – apparently it’s a problem for many law enforcement agencies. Used iPhones go for several hundred dollars and it’s one of the fastest growing crimes nationwide.
In New York there were more than 26,000 incidents of electronics theft in the first 10 months of 2011—81% involving mobile phones—according to an internal police-department document reported by the New York Daily News.
So far a plan has been agreed to but the project hasn’t been implemented yet. Within 6 months, individual carriers are expected to have their databases ready to share with complete integration within the next year after that. There may be challenges integrating CDMA and GSM standards but we’ll see how the timeline holds.
Considering most people have small amounts of cash on them but expensive smartphones, thieves are stealing electronics more than cash states the WSJ report. With these shared databases and easy to use applications like Find my iPhone, it’s bad news for phone thieves!