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IN SAFE HANDS: A Review of Mobile Phone Anti-Theft Designs

NCJ Number
European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research Volume: 14 Issue: 1 Dated: March 2008 Pages: 39-60
Shaun Whitehead; Jen Mailley; Ian Storer; John McCardle; George Torrens; Graham Farrell
Date Published
March 2008
22 pages
This paper reviews anti-theft designs relating to mobile phones.
Since mobile phone theft has played an increasingly prominent role in United Kingdom crime over the last decade, there is a demand for effective and cost efficient anti-theft designs. Recent efforts relating to the car industry have shown that major inroads into crime can be made through design improvements. The physical and electronic design of handsets includes visual deterrents, owner-identification, and handset tracking options. The systems design of phone networks includes the blacklisting of stolen phones. Other measures include biometric-locking of handsets, and designs that encourage ‘safe’ phone use and transportation. Characteristics that promote anti-theft designs are proposed and form the acronym ‘IN SAFE HANDS’: identifiable, neutral, seen, attached, findable, executable, hidden, automatic, necessary, detectable, and secure. The set of characteristics is presented as a heuristic device to aid designing-out crime from frequently stolen electronic goods. Mobile phone manufacturers and network operators are arguably the agents best placed to further many aspects of anti-theft design. Tables, figures, and references