Police warn Calgarians about increase in cellphone thefts

Calgary police said Wednesday they’ve been seeing an increase in cellphone thefts and the stolen merchandise is quickly ending up online.

“Twenty-four hours, sometimes two to three days,” Staff Sgt. Mark England said. “Because they’re offering them at a reduced price, people are very interested in buying them.”

England said thieves are targeting both individuals and stores and potential buyers need to be careful.

“Especially with the release of new cellphones in the fall, we’re seeing a lot of those new ones coming out,” he explained. “We’re also coming out of the Christmas season and people have received new electronic devices and are trying to sell old ones.”

Police said one way people can protect themselves is by asking the seller for the phone’s 15-digit serial number. Investigators said every phone has a unique number which can be checked online at devicecheck.ca

“If the device has been reported stolen, the phone on the black list is deactivated on the carrier’s network,” Katherine Winchester with the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Network explained.

“Once it’s been blacklisted, the device cannot be used on any participating network.”

But not everyone is convinced there’s enough being done to protect the consumer.

“The people selling the phones and stealing the phones aren’t affected at all,” said Geoff D’arcy, the owner of Cell Phone Repair. “Generally because, by the time they’ve stolen it and sold it, it’s not on the blacklist and the people buying it are the ones hurt.”

Calgary police also recommend people bring a friend or family member with them when meeting the seller and say people should ask to meet the person at a public place like a police station.

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