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An Easy Way To Curb Smart-Phone Thieves, In Australia 234

First time accepted submitter xx_chris writes "Cell carriers can and do brick jail broken cell phones but they won't brick stolen cell phones. Except in Australia. The Australians apparently have been doing this for 10 years and it reduces violent crime since the thieves know they won't be able to sell the stolen phone. The article points out that cell carriers have a financial disincentive to do this since a stolen phone means another sale."
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An Easy Way To Curb Smart-Phone Thieves, In Australia

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  • Disincentive? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by grahamsaa ( 1287732 ) on Saturday December 03, 2011 @10:50PM (#38254496)
    It sounds like the carriers have an incentive to brick stolen phones, not a disincentive as the summary states. If a stolen phone results in another phone sale (to the person who's had their phone stolen) this doesn't sound like a disincentive to me.
  • Re:Disincentive? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by djmurdoch ( 306849 ) on Saturday December 03, 2011 @10:54PM (#38254516)

    If a phone is stolen, they get another sale. If the phone is unusable after being stolen, it's less likely to be stolen, so there are fewer thefts and fewer sales.

  • Re:Disincentive? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by zippthorne ( 748122 ) on Saturday December 03, 2011 @11:02PM (#38254570) Journal

    Interesting.. but wouldn't that expose them to liability for the theft?

    I mean, we're suggesting that the cell companies are deliberately refusing to take action with the intent of exposing their customers to a greater risk of theft...

  • Re:Violent (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mosb1000 ( 710161 ) <> on Saturday December 03, 2011 @11:02PM (#38254572)

    I've lived in two of those cities and never been mugged. I'm not saying they aren't dangerous, but it's not a part of every day life.

  • Re:Violent (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jamesh ( 87723 ) on Saturday December 03, 2011 @11:46PM (#38254768)

    I understand that muggings are violent I just wonder how much bricking stops your typical mugger from still wanting your wallet and how much it stops opportunity theft when someone sets there phone down and walks away from it for a moment.

    The problem with stealing a wallet is that it might turn out to be empty (and if you flash your wallet around so others can see it's contents, you're an idiot). As soon as you see someone's phone you know what it is and roughly how much you can get for it. If it's a good phone that you can easily get some money for then you might take the risk of robbing the owner. If you know you won't get anything for it because a stolen phone will be bricked before you can sell it, you won't.

    Nobody is saying it will stop all violent muggings, just that it does make a difference.

  • by green1 ( 322787 ) on Saturday December 03, 2011 @11:59PM (#38254822)

    > I'd known about the ability to block a digital phone since the change from analogue

    Question. What difference does it make if it's analog or digital? The fact is that the carrier has a way of identifying that phone on the network with a fair degree of reliability (otherwise they wouldn't be able to bill you for your calls) so regardless of if it's analog or digital they still have a way of blocking it.

    The ability to block cell phones didn't start with phones going digital. It started when phones no longer required you to tell the operator who you were before you made a call. Unfortunately the willingness to use such a feature is a completely different problem...

  • Re:Disincentive? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JoeMerchant ( 803320 ) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @12:17AM (#38254922)

    If a phone is stolen, they get another sale. If the phone is unusable after being stolen, it's less likely to be stolen, so there are fewer thefts and fewer sales.

    Exactly. This is why there are consumer protection laws; yes, I know, more laws = big government, but that's not always bad. In cases like cell phone carriers where there are precious few choices and very little difference among the choices there are, having a law requiring the service provider to brick the customer's property at the customer's request only makes good sense.

  • Re:Violent (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @01:56AM (#38255264) Homepage

    Quit watching so much TV, it's bad for you.

  • Re:Violent (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 04, 2011 @02:04AM (#38255300)

    Here's your stats - Philly has just shy of one /homicide/ per day. Mugging is definitely part of everyday life for those cities. You can that's not the same as everyday life per citizen, but that's more illuminating of what citizenship means to you. []

  • by Man Eating Duck ( 534479 ) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @11:38AM (#38257068)

    You know what you're supposed to do when you find a phone, right?

    cheekyboy is a dickwad and a thief. But, if you find a phone, don't give it to the police. They will probably do nothing. The two times I've found phones I've texted someone ("Dad") in the contact list, explaining the situation and how the owner can meet me in person. One of the times I even got a very nice finder's fee from the obviously well-off owner. The other one was a crappy phone which belonged to a student, so I declined the offered (nominal) compensation.

    Both people were surprised and happy. It cost me very little effort, and I hope that someone will do the same for me if I should ever lose my phone.

"We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company."