New bid to stop mobile phone thieves

11th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

11 February 2005, BRUSSELS – The Belgian government has announced new measures to crack down on the growing problem of mobile phone theft, it was reported on Friday.

11 February 2005

BRUSSELS – The Belgian government has announced new measures to crack down on the growing problem of mobile phone theft, it was reported on Friday.

According to De Morgen, from the spring, anyone who gets their mobile phone stolen will be able to have it blocked by making one simple phone call.

At the moment, only 8 percent of those who lose a mobile phone get it blocked, mainly because Mobistar and Proximus demand a declaration of theft from the police to do so.

Up until now, most victims have simply had their mobile phone SIM card blocked, stopping the thief from making calls on their bill, but leaving the criminal free to use or sell the handset.

Consumer Protection Minister Freya Van den Bossche wants that situation changed and has worked with Economy Minister Marc Verwilghen to draw up proposals to make blocking a phone a simpler process, which doesn’t involve visiting the police station.

In the future, customers of Base, Mobistar and Proximus will be able to call one emergency number in the case of loss or thefts, rather than contacting their individual operators. The system will be modelled on 'card stop', the current set-up for stopping lost or stolen bank cards.

The mobile phone owner will be asked for the handset’s serial number if he or she wants to block the phone.

Mobile phone companies will be asked to remind customers to make a note of the serial number and to tell them what to do in the case of a theft.

The serial number system is thought necessary to avoid practical jokers blocking phones.

Mobile phone companies claim the process of blocking and un-blocking phones takes longer than that of SIM cards.

Van den Bossche’s office says the initiative could be presented to the Council of State early next week and become law from spring.

Sceptics have said the measure will have little effect upon phone crime, insisting that criminal networks that steal mobiles are now able to unblock phones.

The mobile proposals come as a residents group calls on the authorities to take over control of the location of mobile phone transmitters.

Villagers in Cortil-Noirmont in Brabant Wallon are complaining that the renting of church bell towers by mobile companies is becoming a common practice in order to secretly place masts.

The group says mobile companies sign rental contracts with the church authorities, which means residents’ concerns about the masts being too close to children’s areas are never discussed.

The Committee for the Defence of Citizens in Cortil-Noirmont has sent an open letter to the church and political authorities, claiming the process is against the spirit of democracy.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news

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