A black market of shops and traders willing to deal in stolen smartphones has been exposed.
They were then all blocked or reported stolen to the networks
All the phones used had ‘find-my-phone’ style blocks activated, and in theory their IMEI numbers mean they are not useable once reported stolen.
But it is simple it was to get around such features – using only a laptop.
By giving a device a new IMEI number – effectively changing the phone’s fingerprint – it means that the phone could be used as normal again.
And restoring the phone’s default software removes “find-my-phone” protection.
In just a few mouse clicks and the phone is turned from a paperweight back to a useable device again.
Over the past 12 months:
- 30,430 phones taken in thefts – down 12% on previous year
- 13,724 phones taken in robberies
- Equivalent to 80 phones a day being taken
- More than half of all the thefts on the Tube are of mobile phones
Source: Metropolitan Police and British Transport Police
A phone stolen this morning could be back on the streets by this afternoon, packaged up as a second hand legitimate phone.
A fundamental redesign of smartphones to place the IMEI number on a ‘read-only’ part of the device would prevent this. But Mr Roughley said manufacturers have been reluctant to do this.
So beware you so called smart phone- isn’t that clever if it is lost or stolen.