With the number of mobile phone users increasing, there has been a rise in cases of theft of handsets, writes K.V. Subramanya

A COMPARISON of the city's crime statistics of the past one-and-a-half year with that of the previous years shows that the number of crimes has increased manifold.

But a closer look at the nature of crimes reveals that such cases are rising mainly because of the steep increase in incidents of mobile phone snatching/theft.

While mobile phone snatching/theft tops the list of crimes reported from the city, there has not been any significant change in incidents of murder, burglary and kidnapping during the past few years.

With the number of mobile phone users increasing, there has been a rise in the incidents of mobile phone theft as well as mobile phone snatching.

Mobile phone handsets, which cost between Rs. 1,000 and Rs. 1 lakh, have become the most sought after target of criminals.

The police say that many people are taking to this crime as mobile phones can be easily stolen and disposed of.

The absence of a policy to regulate the sale of used mobile phones has only helped the criminals.

According to the police, about 300 cases of mobile phone theft/snatching are being registered in the city every month.

More than 50 per cent of such cases go unreported as many of the victims do not lodge complaints.

Targets

The police say that most of the people involved in mobile phone theft are youngsters. They mainly target college-going girls, elderly people, call centre or IT firm employees because of the notion that they own high-end handsets.

There is a huge market for stolen handsets in the city as well as in the districts.

But the culprits prefer district places to the city to sell their booty as they get a good price there and also because the risk of being caught is less, the police say.

It is difficult to track a stolen mobile phone if the victims do not know their handset's International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number, a 15-digit-serial-number that helps to track location of the phone when it is being used, the police say.

Complaint

On the other hand, many mobile phone losers complain that the police do not register their complaints under the proper category.

Mobile phone is included under the Electronic Goods Category and this makes it difficult even for the police to maintain accurate figures of mobile phones stolen/snatched and also their prices.

According to an estimate there are three million mobile users in the State, of which two million are in the city alone.

As the number is going to increase in the days to come there is an immediate need to take stringent steps to check mobile phone theft/snatching, the public feel.

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