Hunting down stolen mobiles

Police in Nottingham are the latest to trial online technology to
combat mobile phone theft in the city. A hand-held scanner is being
deployed which can see if a phone has been stolen or not.

Apr 15, 2010
By Paul Jacques

Police in Nottingham are the latest to trial online technology to combat mobile phone theft in the city. A hand-held scanner is being deployed which can see if a phone has been stolen or not.

The scanner, nicknamed Apollo, is connected wirelessly to the national property registration website www.immobilise.com – which has been endorsed by the Home Office. It electronically reads the phone’s international mobile equipment identity (IMEI) code and if the phone has been registered at www.immobilise.com and then later reported stolen or lost, that information is sent back to the Apollo unit within seconds.

The site can be used for registering all kinds of electrical items with unique serial numbers. For those goods and valuables which do not have serial numbers, photographs can instead be uploaded onto the secure site.

Nottinghamshire Police has also acquired a bulk data input system, which allows it to register phones and other items, like iPods, on site while at events such as student fairs. It can also be taken to the homes of crime victims to ensure other valuables are registered to help improve security.
Secondhand goods shops in the county are already required to check items offered to them for sale and the new systems should also improve the effectiveness of that process.

Detective Superintendent Craig Luckett, who has been trialling the system in Nottingham, said: “We have been really impressed with the Apollo device.

“We’ve had it for just a couple of weeks, but already it’s producing results, identifying stolen property and providing us with evidence to carry out arrests.

“It’s also proving its versatility. We can use it for stop-searches on the street, if we suspect someone of carrying a stolen phone, and it can also be used by our territorial support group teams and divisional support units when they execute warrants at properties where we believe stolen goods are being kept.

“It’s an easy-to-use system which can only help to prevent and detect crime in the long term.”


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