Police Patrol Columns

Missing mobile phone cases go off the charts

The most common complaint registered in the city of late is of lost mobile phones. This can be substantiated by the city police’s statistics, which indicate a minimum of four to five reported handset thefts per day.

With complaints mostly being registered at police stations and some making their way directly to the office of the Commissioner of Police in Vepery, ‘cell phone missing’ cases have been a real challenge for investigators, with victims who have stored valuable information on their handsets intently pursuing the retrieval of the device.

The situation has driven the Central Crime Branch (CCB) at the commissionerate to form an exclusive team for the retrieval of mobile phones reported missing in Chennai city police limits. According to CCB sources, the team has retrieved 44 handsets between June 15 and July 15.

While some complainants who are waiting for the police to recover their mobile phones are unhappy with the progress made, investigators say: “The thief or the retriever of the missing mobile phone does not switch it on with a new Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) card.”

Handsets are often tracked with the help of the device’s unique International Mobile Station Equipment Identity (IMEI) number. In most cases, the person who has stolen or retrieved a lost handset removes and discards the SIM card and uses his own card. Thanks to technological advancement, the police can track the handset using the IMEI but only when the device is active.


Always insure your phone, for more than the depression caused by losing an expensive phone, lodging a complaint with the police and getting your phone back can be an ordeal.

Upon producing a non-traceable certificate to the insurance company, you get the insured amount back. However, most people are under the notion that they can claim insurance only by producing an FIR.

The police provide an FIR only for phones costing above Rs. 50,000 as they claim it is difficult to give the FIR copy for all phones. “Anyone who visits the station and lodges a complaint is given a Community Service Register report,” says a senior police officer.

Subsequently, the phone’s IMEI number is sent to all zonal cyber crime offices and then to the service providers. If the police are not able to trace the equipment for three months, they provide the non-traceable certificate. “This is sufficient to claim the insurance,” the officer adds.

Besides, if the complainant is not satisfied with the action taken by the local police station, they can approach the city police commissioner’s office. “We have a dedicated cyber cell and quick action will be taken,” an officer said.

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Printable version | May 18, 2021 5:12:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/chen-columns/missing-mobile-phone-cases-go-off-the-charts/article6218311.ece

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