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.
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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