The New Zealand Telecommunications Forum (TCF) has launched a blacklisting system for lost or stolen mobile devices which Police say will help prevent crime by making mobiles less attractive to thieves.
Vodafone, Telecom and 2degrees have worked together over the past year to develop the blacklisting system, which gives each operator the ability to block the IMEI number (unique identification code) of a mobile device that has been reported as stolen across all three networks, usually within 24 hours.
The system is based on international best practice, and uses a central database hosted by the GSMA – the international body representing the mobile industry.
If blacklisted, a mobile device will be useless on all three major mobile networks, even if the thief (or whoever receives the goods from the thief) changes the SIM or switches provider.
CEO of the TCF David Stone believes that the initiative was a great example of cross-industry collaboration and would bring real benefits for customers, and for the community as a whole.
“Mobile phones have become more and more important to us over the past few years," Stone says.
"For many people, their mobile is not just a phone – it is also their camera, watch, diary, encyclopaedia, map and social organiser.
"This makes smartphones very desirable items, but unfortunately it also makes them a prime target for thieves. The blacklisting system aims to address this problem."
Superintendent Steve Christian, National Manager Mobility for New Zealand Police also welcomes the blacklisting system.
“This is a great leap forward because there has, until now, been a significant gap in this area," he says.
"We are pleased the telcos are now joining together to render stolen devices as being of no value on the streets."
Stone adds that anyone who wishes to have their lost or stolen phone blacklisted should contact their mobile provider, emphasising that they should also report the theft to the police.
But he warns that people should be careful about purchasing mobile phones or other mobile devices from sources other than registered dealers.
“If you purchase a stolen mobile phone or other device – even if you think you are buying it legitimately - you may not have any recourse if that device is subsequently blocked, and so you could end up losing money," he adds.
"We urge people to purchase mobiles only from registered dealers or from sources they know they can trust.”