Mobile phones stolen in Britain, sold in India

Thursday, 18 December 2003, 08:00 Hrs
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LONDON: Watch out, the mobile you are using may well be one stolen from the streets of Britain and re-sold to you in India as new.

Official sources say that thousands of mobile phones are stolen in Britain every month and most of them end up for sale in India, Africa and some places in Europe.

Half of all British street crime involves mobile phone theft, with more than 160 robberies reported every day.

Britain has more than 50 million sets, and the police believe that organised gangs are targeting mobiles for export abroad.

To tackle the menace, Scotland Yard has launched a National Mobile Phone Unit -- the first of its kind in the world.

Based in London, it will gather information in a bid to crack down on the massive numbers of street robberies involving mobile phones.

Set up at a cost of one million pounds, the unit will be staffed by 50 police officers, detectives from forces across the country, immigration and customs and excise officers.

It has already been involved in 40 operations, making 22 arrests and recovering 1,200 stolen sets.

Scotland Yard's Commander John Yates, who heads the unit, said it had discovered that organised crime was involved, exporting phones to places such as India, where a handset can cost up to 300 pounds.

"In this country, the telephones are subsidised by the industry, so a 300-pound phone costs 100 pounds but you sign up for a contract.

"Abroad, it is completely different, a 300-pound telephone costs 300 pounds. That's a lot of money in India. So there is an obvious market to export stolen telephones into India."

The unit aims to infiltrate crime gangs to find out where the phones are going and what sort of illegal activity they are funding.

Specialists will help the unit track phones across the world, with help from the mobile industry.




Source: IANS
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