Stolen cellphone ‘blacklist’ not working: Vancouver police
"We were hoping we can make (stolen phones) sort of worthless by having them blacklisted, then it would decrease the demand for the device."
— Sgt. Randy Fincham, Vancouver police
(PHOTO ILLUSTRATION/ 24 HOURS)
A tool to stop cellphone robberies that was praised by Vancouver police Chief Jim Chu and his counterparts on the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has not been working, according to new numbers from the force.
Police spokesman Sgt. Randy Fincham told 24 hours the department had expected cellphone robberies to drop by 50% since the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association launched a national “blacklist” of lost and stolen devices on Sept. 30 last year.
The hope police had was that those who lost their phones would call their wireless carriers to render the devices inoperable to anyone else.
“They would deactivate your phone and you would ask them to add your IMEI number to the database, which would prevent somebody from using your phone,” Fincham said.
But the new numbers show that between October and March there were still 81 reports of phone robberies compared to 87 in the same period the year before — a mere 6.9% decrease, according to Vancouver police stats.
“It’s incumbent on the owner of a device to report that device as being lost or stolen,” Fincham said.
“There are a number of people we speak to that are unaware of the database when reporting the phone stolen to us.”
He said it’s more difficult to tell whether there have been fewer phone thefts — such as those swiped from coffee tables without confrontation — since it’s not a statistic Vancouver police traditionally track.
Fincham said the database is only effective if victims are reporting their devices stolen to their wireless carriers.
It’s unclear whether more people have been reporting lost phones since the database’s launch, however. The CWTA said it would not have statistics on reported stolen phones post-Sept. 30, 2013 until this fall.