Published On: May 1, 2018 08:55 AM NPT By: Kiran Lama

Hunt for the lost cell phone

Hunt for the lost cell phone

Ek Raj Shivakoti, 28, a cell phone shop owner at Kadaghari in Kathmandu, was spotted at the lost and found department of Metropolitan Police Crime Division, Teku, on Sunday. He went there to follow up the case of his 42 mobile sets which were stolen last October.  According to Shivakoti, the total cost of the mobiles sets was about Rs. 500,000 that were looted from his shop at night by breaking the shutter lock.

Nevertheless, Shivakoti is still optimistic to find the stolen mobile sets as the police are tracking the mobile through the IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number.  He said: “Some of the mobiles are being tracked.  I hope remaning mobiles will be found soon.

” Metropolitan Crime Division has registered as many as 12,429 cases of mobile theft in the current Fiscal Year 2017/18 until April. Of them, only 20 percent, or 1013, have been retrieved and 14,416 are yet to be found. 

Long procedure to track down stolen and lost mobiles

According to sub-inspector Ram Chandra Bhandari at Metropolitan Crime Division, to track down the stolen phones takes a long procedure.  Bhandari is handling the cases of stole mobile phones for a long time.  Bhandari said the police needed warrant from the Supreme Court to protect right to privacy before tracking down the lost mobiles.  

“As soon as we receive green signal from the court, we will send the IMEI numbers to the telecom service providers Nepal Telecom, Ncell, and Smart. They start surveillance of the IMEI numbers,” he said. "The lost phones will be traced if any SIM card is used in it. So, until SIM card is not used, the police cannot do anything." 

Not direct access to telecom office

One of the main reasons of not finding the stolen or lost mobile phones is the police's lack of direct access to telecom operators. In many countries, police have direct access to the telecom operators, whereas in Nepal, they have to depend on the government's telecom regulators. To protect the privacy of the customers, telecom officers do not share the database to police.  Superintendent of Police Narendra Prasad Upreti told Republica that if they had direct access to the telecom operators, the tracking down of stolen and lost mobile sets would be easier and faster.  
According to Min Prasad Aryal, spokesperson of Nepal Telecom Authority (NTA), data of the users could be provided only if the court gives permission to the police. Aryal said the NTA was planning to introduce the Equipment Identity Register (EIR) to control or decrease the mobile theft and illegal trading of mobile in Nepal, which will help to increase the revenue. 

Export of mobiles to out of range

As the stolen and lost mobiles' IMEI numbers can be tracked down only inside Nepal, mobile thieves send the mobile sets out of the border, mainly to India, said Sub-inspector Ram Chandara Bhandari of Metropolitan Crime Division, Teku. He told Republica that the stolen mobile sets are exported out of Nepal, which is another reason why only few of the stolen phones are found. "Police cannot do anything because it is not possible to find phones out of range,” Bhandari said.

Mobile repair centers use different parts of stolen mobiles

Recent investigation of the Crime Division has shown that mobile repair centers in town buy the stolen sets and use their parts for repairing other mobile sets. According to sub-inspector Bhandari, all parts except motherboard could be reused. "That may also be a reason why most of the stolen and lost mobiles are not found yet,” he added. “We have informed every mobile repairing center not to buy stolen sets but some of them could be buying it,” he added. 

Stop buying second-hand Mobiles sets

If you are planning to buy a second-hand mobile from online or anywhere, make sure to verify the identity of the seller. Because, nowadays mobile thieves are selling stolen sets to innocent customers, who get arrested when they insert the SIM card. 

According to the investigation of the Crime Division, if people stopped buying second-hand mobile sets, the rate of mobile theft will go down soon. Sub-Inspector Bhandari believed the rate of theft would also be controlled if the thieves did not find buyers. 

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