back to article Heavily-looted mobile phone barns issue 'safety first' missives to staff

British mobile phone resellers are in turmoil after being repeatedly targeted by thugs during the past four days of rioting that began in London before spreading to other cities. Unsurprisingly those businesses are urging extreme caution among frontline staff. Carphone Warehouse, the country's largest independent handset …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    1. envmod


      saw this yeasterday over on another forum.... how dumb can you get?

    2. Mondo the Magnificent

      Nice find..

      Well done, hopefuully someone in law enforcement picks up on your reply and does due diligence and investigates the "source" of these 40 items.

      However I am sure if they are "hot" that O2 will waste no time in locking these bad fruits down rendering them useless or perhaps making them trackable so the long arm of the law can question the [unsuspecting] buyer/s of this booty... which would then lead to the [suspect] seller/s.


    3. Sean MCCabe


      How subtle....

    4. MrCheese
      Thumb Up

      Coincidence Indeed

      "This post has been flagged for removal"

    5. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Coincidence?

      It is if Craigslist know what's good for them.

      The various tat bazaars will need to keep their eyes peeled over the next few weeks. If they miss too much of the hookey stuff that's bound to be punted, a summons for fencing stolen goods could be theirs if they are perceived by TPTB to be turning a blind eye.....

      1. Tom 13

        Nah. Better to let it go forward recorded by police but unimpeded,

        then pounce in 3 to 6 months when things have died down and more jail cells are available.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Surely all the IMEI numbers of stolen phones are recorded and have now been handed to all the operators who can triangular their location the instant they are powered on?

  3. Steve Evans

    Don't immobilise the phones...

    These morons are obviously a few sandwiches short of a picnic, so just let them charge the phones and use them... Then you'll know exactly where they, and their moronic friends, are each night.

  4. Magnus_Pym

    Water cannon?

    I thought they were illegal in England.

    1. LuMan
      Thumb Up

      RE: Water Canons

      Possibly so. But then again, so are rioting and looting.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        Yeah, a hoodie and trackie bottoms soak up alot of water.

      2. Gavin King

        Water Canons Illegal?

        I'm not sure: Certainly St. George (or St. Patrick, or St. Andrew; St. David was a native) travelled over water.

        Oh, you mean cannon? I'm going...

    2. Wize

      Doesn't have to be powerful enough to knock them off their feet

      Just enough to make them cold and wet. Who wants to keep rioting when freezing?

  5. A Bee
    Black Helicopters

    Brings back happy memories...

    A few years back, there was a spate of muggings and thefts of lap-tops from a railway station near Amsterdam which was frequented by the staff of an electronics company, and also by employees of a consultancy company.

    The electonics company staff received a corporate memo (along the lines of the Carphone Warehouse one), telling them to look after their personal safety as a first priority.

    The consultants received a memo from their parent company telling them to password-protect their hard drives.

  6. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    eBay will be POSITIVELY AWASH in electronic gadgets

    Maybe there will also be people trying to print money on liberated colour printers?

    Guess the "mainstream" economists cannot say anything against THAT.

  7. Citizen Kaned

    normally i would lol

    but this has gotten out of hand now.

    1. Scorchio!!

      Re: normally i would lol

      "but this has gotten out of hand now."

      A climate in which people would normally LOL is a permissive climate, and that is one of the reasons we are here. Trace back through the information scandals of NoTW and Assange, go through happy slapping and youtube, back through FOIA which is too liberal, look at the last government's attitudes to the human rights of children which are so excessive that parents find themselves reported by spiteful children (personally I'd allow them to stay in a council facility for pulling a stunt like that) who felt they weren't getting their way, back through the policies of that idiot Harman who with her sisters wrote the text below and you will see a malaise:

      "It cannot be assumed that men are bound to be an asset to family life, or that the presence of fathers in families is necessarily a means to social harmony and cohesion"

      The Family Way: A New Approach to Policy Making, Anna Coote, Harriet Harman, Patricia Hewitt Social Policy Paper no. 1. Institute for Public Policy Research: London 1990 ISBN 1872452 15 9

      Published 01.09.1990

      "But if we want fathers to play a full role in their children's lives, ...then we need to bring men into the playgroups and nurseries and the schools. And here, of course, we hit the immediate difficulty of whether we can trust men with children. ...Unfortunately, the experience of many of those working with children is that the men who abuse often seek out jobs with children. So we need safeguards. ... Distasteful though it may seem, it may well be necessary to follow the practice already established in some of the schools of not leaving men on their own with groups of children." (1993b, pp. 24-7)

      Hewitt quoted in Dench, (1996) Transforming Men: Changing Patterns of Dependency and Dominance in Gender Relations, Transaction Publishers

      The fools forgot to look for data showing that women abuse children - they (the data plural) were there before this silliness was published, and so were the data showing that women assault men - and looked only for data that confirmed their pontifications and expectations. The legislation is now so bizarre that men are not only locked out of their homes, but also appear to lose everything; with nothing left to lose very often the final and logical act of killing the children is a short step away, but these craven creatures had not worked that out either.

      So no, it's not funny, not even if it 'normally' happens only once.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    ...makes a strangely refreshing change for a big boss at a very large multi-national corp to admit to putting customer care last after company assets and trade. Still, I knew this when CPW gave me the "best" deal on my SGSII back in May.

    1. PeterM42

      Carphone Warehouse Service

      After the excellent service I received from CW over the last couple of years, I will definitely go back there when I next need a phone. Their customer service is superb and it looks like they look after their staff too. This can NOT be a coincidence.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Good customer Service?!?!?!


        I am about to take the CPW to court after they have harassed my wife for the last FOUR years over money that she does not owe them.

        They have admitted liability but refuse to compensate my wife fairly for the four years worth of anguish they have caused her, concluding in a mental breakdown earlier this year followed by a course of antidepressants.

        Get away from them as soon as possible.

  9. DrXym

    The answer here

    Is for every phone store to hold a list of the IMEI numbers of all unsold stock. If a store gets looted, it should be simple enough to distribute the list to every phone network and the cops. I bet they could monitor for some of the high value phones to be turned on and track them in realtime. Some dumbasses will use their existing SIM cards with their real name and address which would lead to some easy arrests.

    1. Tim Bates

      They probably do

      Not sure if UK companies work like Aussie ones, but IMEIs are recorded at multiple stages for the phones we handle - the invoices include listings when we receive them, and we record them as we sell them.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Just visit the local market stalls to see large quantities of mobile phone accessories suddenly available.

  11. dotdavid


    I always thought the IMEI could be used to bar the phone. And I suspect it would work well in this case due to the opportunist nature of the thefts.

    But I was speaking to a T-Mobile store franchisee when buying the OH's mobile who said when they got thefts (surprisingly regularly, it seemed to me) usually nothing really came of it as the crims flogged the phones abroad where the IMEI's weren't blocked.

    Would be nice to have some kind of international agreement. Surely the GSM association or someone could set one up?

    1. Ivan Headache


      The perps are too thick to realise that they can shift their loot overseas.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Yes but...

      ... these retards are just going to use them aren't they.

      I suspect in most urban areas it's a buyers market for "second hand" phones right now and as far as I know Thomas Cook's haven't been looted. ;-)

      I would just love a concerted effort to pull these back in. Triangulate the phone to the boozer it's in, ring it and just tap the scrote on the shoulder - perfect :-)

    3. Nigel 11
      Thumb Down

      They ought to be shipped disabled!

      A phone ought to be shipped disabled. The retailer could enter its IMEI into an activation database upon sale. At first network connect it would check its own status (sold | stolen) and take appropriate action if stolen. Something like waiting a few days for activation clearance to propagate, and then locking down its own firmware so as to require a return-to-factory reset, or even irreparably burning itself out.

      If taken outside the UK it would never be able to check its activation status, so it would never work.

    4. JB

      Yes, but...

      can you see any of these opportunist thugs jumping on the next chunnel to Brussels to offload the gear they looted? I suspect most of them just grabbed what they could then think of something to do with it later.

    5. TonyG

      There is one - sort of.

      If I remember correctly there is the CEIR which is run by the GSM but it requires individual operators to sign up - some operators in some countries haven't.

  12. Dez666

    Shouldn't Mobile Phones become like Modern Car Stereos!

    The once rampant theft of car stereos (and the associated car damage/thievery) has been massively curtailed after changes by the industry (fascia integrated stereos).

    Is it not the time that industry/government put some serious effort to make mobiles unattractive to thieves. It is certainly technically possible (and I would have thought desirable?) to be able to totally block a mobile from all UK networks (and ultimately European as well) via an IMEI blocklist?

    I understand the CEIR is meant to do this, but my one experience of this (had a mobile stolen, reported it, had it returned and it worked on 2 different networks without problems) is that this is not being done properly. Anyone know why not??

    If thieves/looters/etc knew that the device would be unusable the day after taking it, then that would be a massive disincentive, no?

    Surely the effort to create such a system would be of PR & financial gain to the mobile telcos/shops!

    Anyone know any more about this sort of thing? Worth a bit of investigating by the relevant news desk El Reg?

    D :>

    1. TonyG

      The reason it didn't work.

      Not all operators have signed up with the CEIR so if you report it to the first network who isn't on the CEIR it will only be blocked on their network, hence why it'll work on the other two networks.

    2. @brykins

      Gain to the mobile Telcos/Shops?

      They won't gain anything - in fact, the more phones are stolen, the more the phone manufacturers can make and sell. If they're stolen from a store then insurance pays out and the store buys more phones from the manufacturer = win. If they're stolen from users, then insurance (sometimes) pays out and the user replaces the phone, normally with a new model = win.

      There's really no incentive for the manufacturers to do anything at all about mobile phone theft.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      'Is it not the time that industry/government put some serious effort to make mobiles unattractive to thieves.'

      Nokia have been trying hard to make their phones unattractive and unusable for some years now.

    4. Nights_are_Long

      I like this idea...

      But have the phone blert out a loud tone or "STOLEN PHONE" via it's speeker, or better yet somthing generaly offensive at a random interval.

      1. Scorchio!!

        Re: I like this idea...

        Thought of that. Then I shuddered as I remembered that technology can and does fuck up. The better phones should have no problem with notifying a central register of their location as standard. Theft might result in prompt arrest.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Doubt there'll be many arrests or recoveries

    Plenty of phones can have the IMEI changed (or at least the software altered to report a different IMEI), and for those that can't they can be sold abroad as dotdavid said. Even stripping them for sale as original parts would yield a decent profit.

    It's unlikely that anybody will get caught out if they end up in the hands of someone who's half competent.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Given the fact that people are putting pictures of themselves with their ill-gotten gains on facebook and advertising them on craigslist I think that they're not in the hands of people who are half-competent.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'd have thought thefts from mobile stores were usually done with the intention of flogging them in whatever overseas channels are available, precisely because of the IMEI blocking in most of Europe. In this case, probably not so much. I'd reckon there will be a fair few caught this way.

  15. JMB

    RE: Heavily-looted mobile phone barns issue 'safety first' missives to staff

    Are the mobile phone companies able to lock out the phone stolen, presumably the retailers have records all the relevant ID numbers of the phones?

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