Italian carriers launch stolen mobile phone registry

Italy's four mobile phone companies have agreed to introduce a joint register of stolen phones in order to prevent thieves from reusing the handsets, the companies announced Saturday. Telecom Italia Mobile SpA (TIM), Omnitel Vodafone SpA, Wind SpA and Blu SpA have agreed to deny their services to anyone in possession of a cellphone contained in the stolen phone "black list," the companies said in a joint statement.

Customers will be invited to report the IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) code of their missing cellphone to their own operator, who will then ensure that the new "owner" is not allowed to use it, the companies said. Until now thieves simply replaced the SIM (Subscriber Identification Module) card and activated a new number.

Mobile-phone crime is not particularly prevalent in Italy, where there were more than 31 million mobile phone subscriptions at the end of last year, the companies said. In contrast, half a million young people aged between 11 and 15 had their mobile phones stolen in Britain last year. The agreement among the Italian operators is one of the first such initiatives in Europe and offers no economic advantage to the operators, but benefits clients and society by assisting the fight against crime, the operators said.

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