What have you always wondered about the economy? Tell Us

Stolen phones get the kibosh

Marc Sanchez Apr 10, 2012

You hear a version of the same, crummy story over and over: I left my cell on the table for just a minute, and when I came back it was gone. Cell phone theft is easy money for crooks, so it’s good to hear the Federal Communications Commission will announce a partnership with all four, major wireless providers to build a national database of stolen phones to help curb theft.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

The database, which the wireless companies will build and maintain, will be designed to track phones that are reported as lost or stolen and deny them voice and data service. The idea is to reduce crime by making it difficult or impossible to actually use a stolen device, reducing resale value.

The idea is simple: drastically reduce the value of stolen phones by rendering them useless. Useless that is UNLESS… the thieves have been tricking us this whole time. It’s not the phones they’re after. It’s the apps. Somebody needs to break open the secret, underground Angry Birds gaming parlors that are, no doubt, popping of in the back rooms of gin joints and behind false walls in laundromats all over the world.

Expect to see databases for individual carriers roll out within the next six months. Those databases will then be combined to form the national list.

Nice job phone companies. Keep in mind, however, if your phone is stolen, even if it’s in one of the databases, there’s still valuable information in it. Thieves can still connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi, and if your biggest, most guarded secrets are on your phone, well expect them to not be so secret anymore.

News and information you need, from a source you trust.

In a world where it’s easier to find disinformation than real information, trustworthy journalism is critical to our democracy and our everyday lives. And you rely on Marketplace to be that objective, credible source, each and every day.

This vital work isn’t possible without you. Marketplace is sustained by our community of Investors—listeners, readers, and donors like you who believe that a free press is essential – and worth supporting.

Stand up for independent news—become a Marketplace Investor today with a donation in any amount.