My little Motorola mobile has been, in the local parlance, “nicked.” I had it when I got back at 3am, but by the following afternoon, it was nowhere to be found. Naturally, I retraced my steps, checked cushions, asked staff, and rang it (no answer.)

Now an Aussie mobile, like most European models, is on the GSM system. This means that unlike US systems which tend to be programmed by the carriers, each phone has two components: a user-installed SIM card, which contains account information and stored phone numbers, and the handset itself.

So there is some flexibility for the thief: after stealing a handset, (s)he might first try to make some calls. If the victim has pre-paid (as I did), then the loss is limited to what’s in the account. But after that, the thief can still insert a different SIM card and continue to use the phone.

Or perhaps not. Within the last few weeks, a new weapon has become available to combat the thieves. The carriers are now cooperating to bar stolen handsets (idenitified by an IMEI, or serial number) from any network in Australia. What’s more, they give the data to police to determine what SIM card has been inserted and what number dialed.

I don’t expect to get the phone back, which is very annoying given it was my only record of some phone numbers and unanswered voicemail — but at least I can have the satisfaction of knowing nobody else will use it either.

More contact information when I know it.

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