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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 January, 2005, 13:04 GMT
Website will tackle phone theft
Mobile phone keypad
About 328 mobile phones are stolen in London every day
A new website has been launched to help combat mobile phone crime.

From Wednesday, mobile phone users can register their details on the National Mobile Phone Register free of charge.

The register will allow stolen or lost handsets to be matched with their owners. It will also make it easier for mobile phone thieves to be prosecuted.

The scheme is run by the National Mobile Phone Crime Unit (NMPCU) which specialises in street crime involving mobile phones.

'Rightful owners'

The unit, which opened in December 2003, also deals with developing intelligence on mobile phone robbery.

Registration involves typing in the mobile phone's 15-digit IMEI number (serial number). When a mobile phone is recovered, the IMEI number is checked against the register.

The police will contact the original owner if any 'hits' are retrieved.

Assistant Commissioner Tim Godwin, who attended the launch, said: "The register has been developed to assist police to combat mobile phone crime. By registering their mobile phone free of charge, the public can help us.

"This means we can return more lost and stolen phones to their rightful owners and thereby charge more people with offences relating to mobile phones and put more offenders before the courts."

He encouraged every mobile phone owner to join the register.

Jack Wraith, from the Mobile Industry Crime Action Forum (MICAF), welcomed the register.

'Addressing criminality'

"It will also give the police an additional weapon in their task of investigating and addressing criminality associated with stolen mobile phones," he said.

During a pilot test of the system, supported by the NMPCU, Home Office and the mobile phone industry, over 2,000 mobile phones were linked back to their original owners.

A large number of individuals were charged with offences concerning the original theft of the mobile phones.

According to statistics released last year an average of 328 mobile phones are stolen in London every day, half of them from under 18s.

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