Dutch police fight mobile phone theft with SMS bombs

After a user reports their GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) handset stolen, the police start sending out one SMS (Short Message Service) text message to the phone every three minutes: "This handset was nicked, buying or selling is a crime. The police."

"We hope this will make mobile phones an unattractive loot," said Elly Florax, head of communications for the Amsterdam-Amstelland police force.

The deluge of messages is sent out using a computer system that was especially designed for the police, said Florax. If other police forces want to try it, they are welcome to, she added.

Mobile phone theft is rising rapidly in Amsterdam. In January, 453 cases of street robbery were reported, three-quarters of which involved mobile phones, according to a police statement. In January last year, the police received 268 reports of street robbery.

"We have a real GSM theft problem. Perpetrators think it's no big deal -- they just go get a new GSM, but a mugging is more serious than shoplifting," said Florax, noting that the police are increasingly successful in catching handset thieves. So far this year 150 arrests have been made.

Outwitting criminals who take out the phone's SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) card, the police take advantage of the handset's IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number. Using this hardware identification number, the police can track down what mobile phone number is being used on the phone; this number is stored on the SIM card. Once the number is known, it's bombs away.

"It is very true that a lot of mobile phones get stolen. This appears to be a serious attempt to make it more complicated to sell a stolen mobile phone," said Carla van Lomwel, spokeswoman for KPN Mobile, the Netherlands' largest mobile phone operator.

Besides "SMS bombs," the GSM theft-fighting effort includes a promotions team that will hand out flyers on public transportation and at schools. To interest teenagers -- heavy users of mobile phones -- a "GSM prevention song" by Dutch rap artists has been recorded.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Joris Evers

PC World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?