rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 
Rediff.com  » Business » The great mobile phone robbery!

The great mobile phone robbery!

Last updated on: November 28, 2011 13:56 IST

The great mobile phone robbery!

     Next

Next
Sunil Sethi

Has it happened to you? One minute your cell phone is there, the next it isn't. It's happened twice to me this year, on both occasions the theft occurring virtually under my nose, leaving me astonished at the breathtaking swiftness and sleight of hand.

The first was at a wedding dinner: I had received a call and put the phone down for a few seconds at the seated table to turn and speak to my neighbour.

And it was gone, presumably nicked by one of the waitstaff hovering to clear plates. The second was last week, at the cash counter of a crowded shop.

Click NEXT to read more...


Image: Phone thieves are smarter than smartphones.
Photographs: Reuters
     Next

The great mobile phone robbery!

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

I had just added a new number and slipped the cell into my jacket pocket to pay. Almost immediately I sensed, rather than felt, that it had been taken.

Raising an alarm in either case proved futi#8804 calling my number from another phone confirmed the worst. In both instances, the phone had been instantly switched off.

According to a leading security agency as many as half of the country's cell phone users (the figure has now crossed 840 million to cover about 70 per cent of the population) have been parted, one way or another, from their phones.

Those are staggering numbers by way of mislaid or stolen phones.

Click NEXT to read more...


Image: Stolen mobile phones are instantly switched off.
Photographs: Reuters
Prev     Next

The great mobile phone robbery!

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

Type in the words "cell phone loss India" into your search engine and the Net explodes with news and information on safety devices, tracking systems, customised IMEI, or International Mobile Equipment Identity, numbers and plenty of homely advice.

But mostly it brims with accounts of lost souls in search of their lost phones. Losers have set up blogs and chat rooms in a vast network of therapeutic kinship. Some sound so stricken they need serious help. 

It is possibly with such cases in mind that a handset manufacturer has produced a colourful (though not particularly helpful) online trailer that shows how your phone got stolen.

Click NEXT to read more...


Image: Mobile phone losers have set up blogs and chat rooms.
Photographs: Reuters
Prev     Next

The great mobile phone robbery!

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

It is set in picturesque Rajasthan with a group of tourists, happily chatting on a bus, till one of them discovers their phone has gone.

Then begins the chase of a turbaned villager through lanes and over dunes before he is nabbed and the phone successfully recovered.

"How far will he go?" asks the tag line optimistically. But in my opinion, all the promo achieves, apart from a subtle salesmanship, is to deepen the rural-urban divide.

The scale of the Great Phone Robbery is validated by my local police station. The constables are so bored by recording the number of lost cell phone complaints that one of them sullenly suggests there ought to be a separate counter and queue.

Click NEXT to read more...


Image: Policemen are tired of recording lost cases.
Photographs: Reuters
Prev     Next

The great mobile phone robbery!

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

"Do you ever catch cell phone thieves?" I ask his colleague, who keys in complaints.

Clearly, she regards me as one of life's time-wasters, incompetent enough to protect a small piece of personal property.

"About one in every 10 cases," she says, confirming the fact that stealing cell phones is an art considerably more proficient than using one.

Phone thieves are smarter than the most sophisticated new smart phone. Public transport officials, from the Delhi Metro for example, where cell phone theft is chronically high, say they have cornered professional gangs but privately admit that's there's just so much they can do.

Click NEXT to read more...


Image: Only one in 10 cases are solved.
Photographs: Reuters
Prev     Next

The great mobile phone robbery!

Prev     More
Prev

More

The grey market is awash with cut-price stolen handsets. The friendly Sikh at my neighbourhood phone store says he is inundated with cheap offers.

Though he swears he only buys bona fide goods from trademark manufacturers, he can point me to any number of dodgy retailers who run a brisk trade in nicked phones.

What about disabling facilities and protective IMEI features? "Is there no way to track a lost phone?"

"This is India, sir," he says with a broad grin. "It is too big a place. There is a market for every kind of model. And there is a chor for every kind of model."


Image: The grey market is awash with cut-price stolen handsets.
Photographs: Reuters
Prev     More
Source: