Game’s up for cellphone thieves


14 April 2005

A huge blow has been struck against cellphone theft in South Africa with the signing of an agreement between the country’s cellular service providers, Business Against Crime and the SA Police Service that will render all reported stolen cellphones useless.

The agreement by Cell C, MTN and Vodacom to blacklist stolen, lost and damaged cellphones will both help stamp out cellphone theft and curtail the use of cellphones in criminal activities.

From now on, a cellphone reported stolen will not be able to make or receive calls, even with a different SIM card. Criminals will also no longer be able to change the identity of a stolen handset by altering its unique 15-digit IMEI (international mobile equipment identity) number.

Where a serious crime has been committed using a cellphone, the police and the service provider will work together in tracing the phone and user.

National Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi told journalists in Pretoria on Wednesday that combating cellphone theft required an integrated approach.

“The initiative will stop organised crime syndicates in their tracks and will render stolen, lost and damaged cellphones inactive in the hands of criminals”, Selebi said.

Selebi warned that the police would also be targeting pawnshops dealing in stolen cellphones, saying they would be required to point out the sources of their phones.

He added that the police could now request that a particular cellphone not be blacklisted in order to facilitate ongoing investigations.

How to blacklist your phone
Notify your service provider of the loss or theft:

  • Cell C: phone 140 or 084 140 from any other network.
  • MTN: phone 173 (pay-as-you-go users), 808 (contract subscribers) or 083 1173 / 1808 from any other network.
  • Vodacom: phone 111 or 082 111 from a landline.

After verifying your particulars, your service provider will blacklist your phone and provide you with a blacklisting reference number.

You must then report the loss or theft to the police, providing them with the blacklisting number. reporter