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Published on September 7th, 2007 | by Babar Bhatti


Ideas to Beat Phone Snatchers

mzins.jpgWe have talked about fighting mobile phone snatching previously in this post and mentioned the negative impact this problem in a few other posts. This topic keeps coming up elsewhere and I wanted to share this post from Karachi Metro Blog. The discussion there is more interesting actually. For instance Malaika suggests shooting the snatchers at sight. Just in case that you miss that shot (don’t tell me you step out without a gun …) , here are some other ideas, including mobile insurance

It is generally agreed that the PTA sponsored IMEI approach is not effective. Lets start off with a software based solution. Mantissa writes:

For my actual phone (which I’d really hate to lose), I use a program called PhoneGuardian(runs on Symbian phones and cannot be uninstalled), that will communicate back critical location information as well as subscriber information (secretly) in case it is ever stolen. I can also invoke a siren remotely as well! It also gives me the option of remotely immobilizing the phone completely (to prevent the party from getting into your address book/ media etc.) At least with the above, it improves my chances of locating my phone as well as kill the value to the phone to just it’s scrap parts (so no one benefits from my loss) – note however, that once repossessed, I can restore it easily too.

My thought is that it would be good if such anti-theft program is bundled with the phone (installing apps is not for everyone), it would be a good deterrence solution.

Another reasonable option is of insuring your mobile phone against theft or loss. Mobile Zone, a mobile handset retail chain in Pakistan, offers insurance service. Some comments from Kashif from the above post about their service:

MZ doesn’t charge anything extra for insurance. Its just that their rates are bit higher than open market. I was told that in case a set is snatched/lost, I have to register an FIR and will get replacement within 10-15 days.

Rate Comparison (Nokia N70):
MZ: 15,800
Shophive: 16,190
Beliscity: 14,930

On the idea of how a phone attracts thieves, here is a response: “I dont think a phone snatcher would pick n choose the model of the phone. They will more likely select the target based on how easy or hard it would be to snatch/steel. If the person is an easy target it would not really matter if they r holding an iPhone or some old crappy model.”

Then there’s the issue of the second-hand phone market in which most of these stolen phone end up. Is there a way to stop it? One idealistic recommendation is below. With newer phones however security is expected to be much better though.

Each phone must have an serial number. That number should be listed (submitted) to all service providers. (via police or 3rd party online database – This could be a great business opportunity too by the way) So when the thieves steel a phone – they sell it in the black market – the purchase of that phone goes to the phone service provider and will not be able to get the service and will be told that “Sir/Madam you have a stolen item, we cannot provide u service. Besides that the buyers/consumer will have the option to check/verify “before” purchasing a used cell phone if it is stolen or not.

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3 Responses to Ideas to Beat Phone Snatchers

  1. Babar Bhatti says:

    The LG idea has merit .. it may not be easy to implement though.

    I agree with you Malaika – nothing better than self-defence.

  2. Tee Emm says:

    LG is hammering a feature very hard these days in India and Pakistan. I do not have a first hand experience of the feature (called Mobile Tracker) but it is based on some hardware programming already done in the phone that sends out SMS from the ‘new SIM’ that the theif (or someone who bought a stolen phone) to a predefined phone number. In that way, you can catch the number that is using the stolen phone. Theoratically, if you know a number doing something illegal (like using a stolen phone), you can locate/reach/deactivate the same if the law and other infrastructure provisions are there and are effective.

  3. well what else can we do!?! we need to get rid of them some how! :p

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