Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/03/23/home_office_bold_initiative/

Home Office takes non-action against phone pinchers

Does nothing new to stop green thieves maybe making a mint

By Bill Ray

Posted in Mobile, 23rd March 2010 08:02 GMT

The Home Office is demanding that mobile phone recyclers continue what they're already doing, in the name of cracking down on mobile phone theft.

The office is busy creating a new Code of Practice which will require the industry to check handsets sent for recycling against the register of stolen phones, preventing thieves cashing in on the £25 average value of a handset. Which would be most laudable, it if wasn't happening already.

The fact is that few handsets sent for recycling get broken up for parts - the majority are shipped to developing countries where last year's model can still be sold for a profit. But an increasing number of those countries are now signed up to the international database of stolen phones, so recyclers (or, more accurately, resellers) have to check against the database anyway.

The Home Office cites "due diligence specialists" Recipero saying that 100,000 stolen handsets turn up for recycling every year, and at an average price of £25, that adds up to a possible £2.5m in ill-gotten gains. Recipero runs the Immobilise database of stolen items on behalf of the UK police, and the company tells us that most recycling companies already check the database so they've got a good handle on the number of stolen handsets that turn up.

But that also means those stolen phones aren't being recycled resold, so no one is paying out the £2.5m - the criminals aren't getting away with it.

So the plan appears to be for some civil servants to sit round and write up guidelines over a few cups of coffee, whereupon the Home Office Minister gets to appear tough on the industry, which reluctantly accepts the demands to continue doing exactly what it was already doing - and everyone wins. As you were. ®