B'luru cops turn to portal to outwit mobile phone thieves

Bengaluru is the third city, after Delhi and Mumbai, to use the Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR)
Last Updated 20 October 2022, 01:51 IST

Stealing a mobile phone may not be as lucrative as before.

Bengaluru police have started using a sophisticated online portal that can block the IMEI number of a stolen mobile phone, making it virtually useless for the thief.

That's not all. The portal also issues an alert whenever a SIM card is inserted into the stolen phone. The alert contains details of the SIM card, helping the police to trace the device/thief.

Bengaluru is the third city, after Delhi and Mumbai, to use the Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR) developed by the Union government's Department of Telecommunications.

The city cops have been using the portal since September 20 on a pilot basis. The results are encouraging: police have been able to block almost 1,200 stolen phones. Thieves tried to use 476 phones by inserting SIM cards into them.

Buoyed by the success, police have decided to rely on the portal on a regular basis, said Raman Gupta, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime).

The Deputy Commissioner of Police (Command Centre) has been appointed the nodal officer for the CEIR.

Police sought access to the portal after noticing a significant rise in phone muggings. The past approach — registering a case under IPC Section 379 (theft) or issuing e-lost reports — wasn't working. Bengaluru Police Commissioner C H Pratap Reddy decided to take a different approach. Soon after taking office, he ordered that mobile snatchings be registered under IPC Section 392 (robbery).

He also wrote to the Department of Telecommunications, asking that Bengaluru police be given access to the CEIR. The permission came on September 5, and cops started using the portal 15 days later.

Gupta said, "During the pilot project, CEIR was found to be very effective. As soon as a phone robbery or theft is reported, officers at the police station will get the details of the IMEI and block it on CEIR. Once blocked, the phone will become useless. It won't work even if a SIM card is inserted into it."

Laypeople can also block the stolen phone through the CEIR portal if they have the FIR or e-lost report as well as the original bill. Similarly, the phone can be unblocked after recovery. A SIM card will also be required to block and unblock a phone. If the phone is recovered, the owner should get a replacement SIM card on the same number. The CEIR portal will send an OTP to the number. The OTP will be needed to block/unblock the phone. "This is to avoid misuse of the portal," Gupta said.

While used phones are mostly sold intact in the black market, their spare parts also have buyers. There have been cases where thieves dismantled the device and sold its parts in the grey market.

(Published 19 October 2022, 19:41 IST)

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