The five main UK mobile operators have pledged to block around 80% of stolen or lost mobile phones within 48 hours of them being reported missing.
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The pledge has been made to the Mobile Industry Crime Action Forum (MICAF), and the government is to set up a national phone crime unit to tackle the growing problem of stolen mobiles.
Although some new mobile phones cannot be re-activated once blocked, there is still a thriving business for unblocking phones via independent mobile phone shops and market stalls.
The going rate for unblocking a phone is £1.99 in many places, and on-line trading site eBay is full of listings for “unblocked” phones “that work on any network”.
There is also a growing market for stolen UK phones abroad, where they can not be blocked.
Police figures show that street robberies went up by 8% last year, with stolen mobiles and portable music players often the target for criminals.
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