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Last Updated: Monday, 4 July, 2005, 05:50 GMT 06:50 UK
War waged on mobile phone crime
mobile generic
Mobile phone crime is a growing problem
Police in south Wales are taking action to halt the spread of mobile phone theft - and to help return stolen handsets to their owners.

In the South Wales Police area, thefts of this type account for up to 12% of crimes and figures were on the rise.

In 2004, more than 18,000 mobile phones were reported stolen, lost or taken in robberies in south Wales alone.

Police said that represented an estimated loss of more than 1m and thousands of phones are never returned.

Many of those recovered by the force cannot be returned to their rightful owners because no-one knows who they are.

They are either destroyed, donated to charities, or stored away.


South Wales Police has now started subscribing to a UK-wide data base designed to match phones with their rightful owners.

In areas like London and Greater Manchester, which have been subscribing to the database for some time, the detection rate for mobile phone crime has increased by 30%.

South Wales Police are now urging phone users to register their numbers with the database to give themselves greater protection.

Users can register their details on the National Mobile Phone Register free of charge.

Mobile phone keypad
About 328 mobile phones are stolen in London every day

Earlier this year, it was revealed that legislation to prevent mobile phones from being doctored would be introduced under the government's forthcoming Violent Crime Bill.

The Home Office said the new law would make it easier to arrest people for reprogramming stolen mobiles so they can be used again.

An average of 328 mobile phones are stolen in London alone every day - half of them from under-18s.

The Violent Crime Bill also has measures to tackle yob behaviour and knife crime, which are aim to reduce the numbers of street robberies and mobile phone thefts.

The bill will make it illegal to offer or agree to reprogramme a phone, rather than the act of doing it.

The new law will be similar to those preventing ticket touts offering tickets for resale.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: "We want to tighten up the legislation on it to try to prevent the doctoring of stolen mobiles."

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