IMEI blocking, better tech: How Delhi Police plan to deter phone thefts and robbery

With Delhi seeing an increase in street crime, especially phone snatching cases, the Delhi Police is planning to team up with internet service providers and the department of telecommunications to block stolen or robbed phones through the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number.
According to police, a total of 4,660 snatching cases have been reported in the city this year between January 1 and June 28. There has been an 11-15% increase in street crimes as compared to last year, with interstate gangs targeting mostly senior citizens and women, police said. The robbed phones are sold to “receivers” in and around Delhi who then resell them in other states, they added.
“It’s a menace and we have come up with the idea to immediately register data of all stolen phones and upload it on our servers and Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS). In a testing period of one month, we were able to block more than 950 IMEI numbers/phones. This way, the phone is of no use to the accused and the receiver will not be able to make money,” said a senior officer at the Delhi Police headquarters.
In March, the former police chief at a crime-review meeting had encouraged DCPs to upload IMEI details of stolen phones on CCTNS and the Delhi Police website.
“The gangs thrive on profits they make by selling stolen phones every day. If we block the IMEI with help from internet service providers and our servers, the thieves will be left clueless and will have to discard the phone. Soon, receivers will also stop buying phones from thieves,” added the officer.