Police and industry to address mobile phone theft

A conference was held in Canberra today to discuss the issue of mobile telephone theft and its prevention in Australia. Representatives attended from Australian law enforcement agencies and the mobile phone industry.

With more than 2,000 mobile phones being reported either lost or stolen nationally each week it was agreed the issue was one which needed to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

All representatives highlighted the need for a comprehensive approach to the problem. A three point plan was identified consisting of:

  • greater public awareness (promotion of existing handset security features);
  • technical solutions (including IMEI blocking); and
  • regulatory reform (outlawing IMEI tampering -- "handset re-birthing").

To further this strategy, joint working groups have been established to address the education, engineering and enforcement aspects of the strategy. These groups will report back to a National Steering Committee by the end of March.

The Outgoing Chair of the Australasian Crime Commissioner’s Forum, Federal Agent Ben McDevitt, said it was pleasing to see all representatives agreed that a consistent national approach would be the most effective way to proceed.

"From an Australasian law enforcement perspective initial results from today are pleasing. There is a genuine commitment and enthusiasm to address what has become a serious problem in recent years," Mr McDevitt said.

"We accept that the solution is a complex one and a multi-faceted approach will be required by all parties."

Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Mobile Telecommunication Association (AMTA), Mr Ross Monaghan, said the mobile phone industry fully recognised the growing problem of mobile phone theft.

"The issue requires an urgent co-ordinated response from industry, government and law enforcement agencies," Mr Monaghan said.

"Our primary focus is protecting our customers.

"The whole industry acknowledges the value of technical strategies combined with comprehensive preventative measures and legislative reform.

"IMEI blocking was unanimously recognised as being an essential but not the sole element. The effectiveness of this approach is heavily dependent on appropriate legislative reform and consumer education strategies."

Media Contact:
Ross Monaghan
Chief Executive
Mobile: 0411 144 439

Ben McDevitt
Officer Federal Agent
Phone: (02) 6256 7750