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(Network World)   Could this be the technical punch that finally knocks out smart phone theft?   (networkworld.com) divider line 42
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6792 clicks; posted to Geek » on 01 Nov 2012 at 9:44 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-11-01 02:55:41 AM
Wow, and after only ten years?
 
2012-11-01 07:03:59 AM
No.

My phone was stolen last year by Gypsy women in big Romany dresses, masters at the subtle art of "hey what's that over there" distraction, snatch and flee... no really, they were, I can't believe I fell for it and didn't notice till about half an hour later that my phone was missing, snatched off my desk at work. The IMEA registered as stolen and blocked, it can never again work as a phone, unless really clever people can change IMEA, or I've completely misunderstood what the Vodafone people told me, and yet it still will function happily as basically a mini tablet. It'll work on wifi, so a brand new smart phone that can't make any calls, that's gotta be worth £50 to some moran.

Even if it's not, people don't know that, they probably think they can buy a brand new phone for £50, so people will keep stealing them.
 
2012-11-01 10:02:58 AM
The IMEA number can be changed but it generally takes a lot more know-how and savvy to do it than your average thief is willing to go through (this is more true for newer phones). The profit for doing that work and taking the risk of changing it probably isn't worth it.
 
2012-11-01 10:03:54 AM
Wait...WHAT?!?? You US types don't do this?

That is crazy, absolutely crazy...
 
2012-11-01 10:16:22 AM

moel: Wait...WHAT?!?? You US types don't do this?

That is crazy, absolutely crazy...


No.

Big companies don;t want it because they make money off selling new phones. Which theivery encourages.

And unless carriers have to use this database there is nothing stopping people from using some shiatty small carrier.
 
2012-11-01 10:17:03 AM
Listen, sheeple. The only reason the industry is behind this is to sell us more phones.
 
2012-11-01 10:19:29 AM
This database won't help you recover your phone though. I work for a carrier that has flagged IMEI's for a while, and I'd someone brings in a stolen phone, all we can say is "sorry it's been flagged." We can't prove whether any individual is actually a thief, or another victim of the thief who bought a flagged phone on Craigslist/eBay/in a pawnshop, so we have to let them keep it.

Most US carriers won't allow the use of unapproved equipment anyway. For example, Sprint will only allow you to activate a Sprint iPhone, even though their version is identical to Verizon's, because the ESN's aren't in Sprint's database.

In short, I think this list will do nothing to help theft victims, unless the public can search for ESN's themselves. All it'll do is help carriers sell more new phones.
 
2012-11-01 10:25:22 AM

Slaxl: No.

My phone was stolen last year by Gypsy women in big Romany dresses, masters at the subtle art of "hey what's that over there" distraction, snatch and flee... no really, they were, I can't believe I fell for it and didn't notice till about half an hour later that my phone was missing, snatched off my desk at work. The IMEA registered as stolen and blocked, it can never again work as a phone, unless really clever people can change IMEA, or I've completely misunderstood what the Vodafone people told me, and yet it still will function happily as basically a mini tablet. It'll work on wifi, so a brand new smart phone that can't make any calls, that's gotta be worth £50 to some moran.

Even if it's not, people don't know that, they probably think they can buy a brand new phone for £50, so people will keep stealing them.


I was told the same thing when my s3 was stolen. I even said that I was in another country when it was happened but 3 told me that they blocked the phone's IMEA and that it was now useless.

BS. Got the phone back 2 weeks later and the thing was working just fine.

Blocking the IMEA on my phone only works in my country.

moel: Wait...WHAT?!?? You US types don't do this?

That is crazy, absolutely crazy...


Before I clicked the link, I thought to myself what kind of 'technical punch' have they invented. Perhaps some new fangled doohickey inside the phone that can be tracked and switched off remotely anywhere in the world, even when the phone is off.

Then I read TFA and thought WTF? They don't do this already?
 
2012-11-01 10:31:06 AM
About farking time.
 
2012-11-01 10:34:44 AM
I know on my GS1 simply flashing a new rom changed the IMEI code.All it took was a minute to root the phone and then about 10 minutes to install the new rom... well worth it to a thief, and you can wipe the phone during the process.
 
2012-11-01 10:45:42 AM
No, this will do almost nothing.

Stolen smartphones are already not activated on Verizon, Sprint, or AT&T. Some are activated on T-mobile, but not that many. Most are activated on the small local/regional/national carriers like MetroPCS. Those carriers would actually prefer not selling you the handset, just get you to buy the minutes or activate service. For example, Cricket has been flashing and activating stolen Verizon handsets for years - that is where most devices stolen from Verizon go and everyone in the industry knows it. Unless the entire industry is REQUIRED to participate, this problem won't change at all.
 
2012-11-01 10:52:02 AM

liam76: Big companies don;t want it because they make money off selling new phones. Which theivery encourages.


I'm sure they don't mind selling a new contract to someone who's bought a stolen phone, either.
 
2012-11-01 11:15:53 AM

Radak: liam76: Big companies don;t want it because they make money off selling new phones. Which theivery encourages.

I'm sure they don't mind selling a new contract to someone who's bought a stolen phone, either.


And then canceling it with no refunds because of breach of TOS for using a stolen phone if it's ever reported.
 
2012-11-01 11:22:51 AM

Radak: liam76: Big companies don;t want it because they make money off selling new phones. Which theivery encourages.

I'm sure they don't mind selling a new contract to someone who's bought a stolen phone, either.


Great point.
 
2012-11-01 11:29:50 AM
Use find my phone on WP and wait outside thief house with baseball bat
 
2012-11-01 11:34:03 AM

Sleazy_as_Pie: This database won't help you recover your phone though. I work for a carrier that has flagged IMEI's for a while, and I'd someone brings in a stolen phone, all we can say is "sorry it's been flagged." We can't prove whether any individual is actually a thief, or another victim of the thief who bought a flagged phone on Craigslist/eBay/in a pawnshop, so we have to let them keep it.


Receiving stolen property. It doesn't matter if they know it's stolen or not, it should go back to its rightful owner.

In short, I think this list will do nothing to help theft victims, unless the public can search for ESN's themselves. All it'll do is help carriers sell more new phones.

The point of the list is not to help consumers directly but to pretty much destroy the stolen phone market. As people learn that stolen phones won't work they will be careful about what they buy and people won't be able to sell them anymore. At that point cell phone thefts will drop greatly and the consumer will benefit.

madgonad: No, this will do almost nothing.

Stolen smartphones are already not activated on Verizon, Sprint, or AT&T. Some are activated on T-mobile, but not that many. Most are activated on the small local/regional/national carriers like MetroPCS. Those carriers would actually prefer not selling you the handset, just get you to buy the minutes or activate service. For example, Cricket has been flashing and activating stolen Verizon handsets for years - that is where most devices stolen from Verizon go and everyone in the industry knows it. Unless the entire industry is REQUIRED to participate, this problem won't change at all.


Agreed. It's useless without mandatory participation.
 
2012-11-01 11:41:49 AM

Sleazy_as_Pie: We can't prove whether any individual is actually a thief, or another victim of the thief who bought a flagged phone on Craigslist/eBay/in a pawnshop, so we have to let them keep it.


Um, you realize that transfer of ownership does not work that way, right? If it's been reported stolen, it needs to go to the cops, and assumably they'll eventually give it back to the original owner.

There's not a country in the first world where the fact that you bought something stolen "legally" makes it actually legally yours. If it was stolen, as far as the law is concerned it still belongs to the person it was stolen from, regardless how many hands it's passed through since.

Or, to put it briefly: No. Money laundering still isn't legal in the US.
 
2012-11-01 11:42:08 AM

Viewer: I know on my GS1 simply flashing a new rom changed the IMEI code.All it took was a minute to root the phone and then about 10 minutes to install the new rom... well worth it to a thief, and you can wipe the phone during the process.


No it didn't... The IMEI is not part of the ROM flashing. It's a lower level activity that goes into the phones firmware that also happens to be illegal. You need much more sophisticated tools than things like Kies (Samsung's flashing software). You can't even use ADB to change it. You need low level access to the phone.

Also, again, it's illegal to do so.

Not to mention the fact that the IMEI that it's changed to has to be 1) not in use by any other phone, 2) in the carrier's database, 3) not flagged already, and 4) one that matches the phone make and model.
 
2012-11-01 11:42:29 AM
Or folks could quit making themselves a target by carrying stupidly expensive,easily stolen desirable gadgets with them at all times. You can survive perfectly well without being 100% connectable at all times you know.
 
2012-11-01 11:44:14 AM
I'm waiting for the technological punch that makes these devices into better *phones*. They're great little portable computers for text, web, video, camera, etc. But making and handling calls with Android is a PITA. I'm actually considering paying for an additional line to have a very dumb basic cell phone for voice only.
 
2012-11-01 11:46:39 AM

drewogatory: Or folks could quit making themselves a target by carrying stupidly expensive,easily stolen desirable gadgets with them at all times. You can survive perfectly well without being 100% connectable at all times you know.


Interesting. I really wasn't expecting the old "if you didn't want to be raped, you shouldn't have worn a skirt exposing your ankles, you slut" argument in a thread about cell phones. Apparently it's spreading form the politics threads.
 
2012-11-01 11:54:11 AM

Jim_Callahan: drewogatory: Or folks could quit making themselves a target by carrying stupidly expensive,easily stolen desirable gadgets with them at all times. You can survive perfectly well without being 100% connectable at all times you know.

Interesting. I really wasn't expecting the old "if you didn't want to be raped, you shouldn't have worn a skirt exposing your ankles, you slut" argument in a thread about cell phones. Apparently it's spreading form the politics threads.


Um, a rape analogy seems excessive. It's more like wearing a g-shock instead of a Rolex if you know you're going to be in a high crime rate area. Or eep your good phone stashed in your bag and keep an old iphone3 in your pocket. I always carry a dummy wallet in the city just in case.
 
2012-11-01 11:58:23 AM

Sleazy_as_Pie: Most US carriers won't allow the use of unapproved equipment anyway. For example, Sprint will only allow you to activate a Sprint iPhone, even though their version is identical to Verizon's, because the ESN's aren't in Sprint's database.


It's worth noting that this only applies to CDMA carriers (Verizon, Sprint, MetroPCS). GSM carriers (AT&T, T-Mobile) can use any compatible equipment as long as you insert one of their SIM cards (and the phone itself isn't SIM-locked to a particular carrier, and the phone's IMEI isn't blacklisted). In fact, T-Mobile has an ad campaign currently that encourages people with unlocked iPhones to switch to their service in certain areas.
 
2012-11-01 12:15:34 PM
Step 1. Sell old smart phone for $$$
Step 2. Report it as lost/stolen and have the IMEA blocked
Step 3. Profit?

This is great, except that this means people can totally screw over someone else who's legally bought an old phone.
 
2012-11-01 12:29:58 PM

Mike Chewbacca: Step 1. Sell old smart phone for $$$
Step 2. Report it as lost/stolen and have the IMEA blocked
Step 3. Profit?

This is great, except that this means people can totally screw over someone else who's legally bought an old phone.


Good American proudly display their patriotism by purchasin new. What are you, some sort of communist.
 
2012-11-01 12:46:57 PM

Mike Chewbacca: Step 1. Sell old smart phone for $$$
Step 2. Report it as lost/stolen and have the IMEA blocked
Step 3. Profit?

This is great, except that this means people can totally screw over someone else who's legally bought an old phone.


There needs to be a police report of the stolen phone to have the IMEI number blocked. And filing false police reports are generally frowned upon.
 
2012-11-01 12:54:28 PM

tgambitg: Mike Chewbacca: Step 1. Sell old smart phone for $$$
Step 2. Report it as lost/stolen and have the IMEA blocked
Step 3. Profit?

This is great, except that this means people can totally screw over someone else who's legally bought an old phone.

There needs to be a police report of the stolen phone to have the IMEI number blocked. And filing false police reports are generally frowned upon.


What if you're a cop.
 
2012-11-01 12:55:44 PM

StoPPeRmobile: tgambitg: Mike Chewbacca: Step 1. Sell old smart phone for $$$
Step 2. Report it as lost/stolen and have the IMEA blocked
Step 3. Profit?

This is great, except that this means people can totally screw over someone else who's legally bought an old phone.

There needs to be a police report of the stolen phone to have the IMEI number blocked. And filing false police reports are generally frowned upon.

What if you're a cop.


That's a separate issue, though it shouldn't be.
 
2012-11-01 02:37:03 PM

Oreamnos: I'm waiting for the technological punch that makes these devices into better *phones*. They're great little portable computers for text, web, video, camera, etc. But making and handling calls with Android is a PITA. I'm actually considering paying for an additional line to have a very dumb basic cell phone for voice only.


I thought I was the only one that thought this :)
 
2012-11-01 02:38:02 PM

drewogatory: Jim_Callahan: drewogatory: Or folks could quit making themselves a target by carrying stupidly expensive,easily stolen desirable gadgets with them at all times. You can survive perfectly well without being 100% connectable at all times you know.

Interesting. I really wasn't expecting the old "if you didn't want to be raped, you shouldn't have worn a skirt exposing your ankles, you slut" argument in a thread about cell phones. Apparently it's spreading form the politics threads.

Um, a rape analogy seems excessive. It's more like wearing a g-shock instead of a Rolex if you know you're going to be in a high crime rate area. Or eep your good phone stashed in your bag and keep an old iphone3 in your pocket. I always carry a dummy wallet in the city just in case.


I think they make pills for that kind of paranoia nowadays.....
 
2012-11-01 02:45:22 PM

Mazzic518: drewogatory: Jim_Callahan: drewogatory: Or folks could quit making themselves a target by carrying stupidly expensive,easily stolen desirable gadgets with them at all times. You can survive perfectly well without being 100% connectable at all times you know.

Interesting. I really wasn't expecting the old "if you didn't want to be raped, you shouldn't have worn a skirt exposing your ankles, you slut" argument in a thread about cell phones. Apparently it's spreading form the politics threads.

Um, a rape analogy seems excessive. It's more like wearing a g-shock instead of a Rolex if you know you're going to be in a high crime rate area. Or eep your good phone stashed in your bag and keep an old iphone3 in your pocket. I always carry a dummy wallet in the city just in case.

I think they make pills for that kind of paranoia nowadays.....


You have never been in a big city with awesome pickpockets, i see.
 
2012-11-01 02:51:55 PM

StoPPeRmobile: Mazzic518: drewogatory: Jim_Callahan: drewogatory: Or folks could quit making themselves a target by carrying stupidly expensive,easily stolen desirable gadgets with them at all times. You can survive perfectly well without being 100% connectable at all times you know.

Interesting. I really wasn't expecting the old "if you didn't want to be raped, you shouldn't have worn a skirt exposing your ankles, you slut" argument in a thread about cell phones. Apparently it's spreading form the politics threads.

Um, a rape analogy seems excessive. It's more like wearing a g-shock instead of a Rolex if you know you're going to be in a high crime rate area. Or eep your good phone stashed in your bag and keep an old iphone3 in your pocket. I always carry a dummy wallet in the city just in case.

I think they make pills for that kind of paranoia nowadays.....

You have never been in a big city with awesome pickpockets, i see.


NYC... Boston... Montreal.... No I guess I haven't..
 
2012-11-01 02:54:30 PM
Wow we finally got what other countries already had going through govt. mandates...and they write this article as if the tech that makes it happens is new somehow, way to be in someone's pocket news agency.
Don't bother to remind us all that's it's only going on here now that thefts have gotten so high that the govt. would have stepped in and forced it soon anyway. Good job at giving the idea that the private companies are just doing what they can to help out the people because they are just such selfless nice guys.
 
2012-11-01 04:06:09 PM
They didn't need TECH to fix this, they just needed people getting pissed off.

Oh yes we will blank your simm card, but the phone is still good with a new simm card.

Asshats.
 
2012-11-01 07:22:37 PM

mr_a: Wow, and after only ten years?


that
 
2012-11-01 08:26:08 PM

Mazzic518: Oreamnos: I'm waiting for the technological punch that makes these devices into better *phones*. They're great little portable computers for text, web, video, camera, etc. But making and handling calls with Android is a PITA. I'm actually considering paying for an additional line to have a very dumb basic cell phone for voice only.

I thought I was the only one that thought this :)


I've never had a problem with making and receiving calls on my Android phones. My only complaint is that the ROM I use (d3rp ROM) doesn't support voice dialing commands from Bluetooth.
 
2012-11-02 06:43:47 AM
Saw the headline and wondered if the idea of sending a signal to a particular EMEI through the internet and mobile networks to turn the thing into a brick had finally been implemented and then found out it was just the best country in the world catching up to the rest of us 10 years after the event...
 
2012-11-02 06:47:55 AM

twat_waffle: I've never had a problem with making and receiving calls on my Android phones.


Nor me. Sometimes the problem exists between the chair and the keyboard...

/Now you have me wondering if twat waffles are made from fanny batter
 
2012-11-03 01:55:17 AM

drewogatory: Or folks could quit making themselves a target by carrying stupidly expensive,easily stolen desirable gadgets with them at all times. You can survive perfectly well without being 100% connectable at all times you know.


I use this thing called a pocket. It works well for keeping my phone mine. I use it when needed but I don't carry it around in my hands all the time like many I see. I know people who are married to the damn things.
 
2012-11-03 01:59:15 AM

Jim_Callahan: Interesting. I really wasn't expecting the old "if you didn't want to be raped, you shouldn't have worn a skirt exposing your ankles, you slut" argument in a thread about cell phones. Apparently it's spreading form the politics threads.


Not interesting at all. It is called reality. Grab and run is big business and you don't face the hard time you would with rape. And is more profitable.

Equating skirts and rape with a grab and run with a cell phone is, what, a straw man kind of argument?
 
2012-11-03 08:23:41 AM

weapon13: I was told the same thing when my s3 was stolen. I even said that I was in another country when it was happened but 3 told me that they blocked the phone's IMEA and that it was now useless.BS. Got the phone back 2 weeks later and the thing was working just fine


Wait... it was stolen, yet you got it back?
 
2012-11-04 01:10:05 PM

Jim_Callahan: Sleazy_as_Pie: We can't prove whether any individual is actually a thief, or another victim of the thief who bought a flagged phone on Craigslist/eBay/in a pawnshop, so we have to let them keep it.

Um, you realize that transfer of ownership does not work that way, right? If it's been reported stolen, it needs to go to the cops, and assumably they'll eventually give it back to the original owner.

There's not a country in the first world where the fact that you bought something stolen "legally" makes it actually legally yours. If it was stolen, as far as the law is concerned it still belongs to the person it was stolen from, regardless how many hands it's passed through since.

Or, to put it briefly: No. Money laundering still isn't legal in the US.


Not every phone flagged "stolen" is actually stolen. The flag is typically applied by the carrier or insurance company (in the US it's Asurion 99.9% of the time). If it was applied by the insurance company when you filed a lost/stolen claim, then the recovered device is technically the property of the insurance company, who doesn't care about getting it back. Or if they do, that info is not communicated down the pipeline whatsoever.

Also, the law typically says "knowingly" receiving stolen property. Buying stolen property doesn't make it yours, but it also doesn't make you a criminal.

If someone has filed a police report, that's a different situation, but I've only had that happen once. They asked us about it and gave us the serial number to watch for, but the guy found the thief using his security app and had the phone back two days later. Seems like most people aren't concerned enough to call the police or take the trouble of filing a police report, not to mention the people who don't know for sure if someone took it or they lost it.
 
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