Tag Archives: NMPR

Immobilise helps police reunite 250 items of recovered property with their owners

Property Marking EventPolice in Avon and Somerset yesterday (Thursday December 17) held their latest “Relentless” day, focussing on the prevention of theft and burglary.

There have been 26 Operation Relentless “days of action” since its launch in June 2005, which has resulted in more than 2150 arrests.

“Operation Relentless on Property” has targeted thieves and those who handle stolen goods in addition to highlighting crime prevention initiatives to the public to foil burglars and other criminals.

As part of the day of action, police and partner agencies engaged in a range of activities across Somerset. A warrant was carried out in the Taunton area leading to the arrest of a man for handling stolen goods. Vulnerable Vehicle Checks were carried out across the area, inspecting vehicles and identifying those with items of value left on display. The owners of the cars have been sent a letter reminding them to keep items such as phones, MP3s and Satellite Navigation Systems out of sight.

Officers also visited several second hand goods retailers with Trading Standards to ensure that they were complying with regulations and not trading in stolen items. Six arrests were made during the course of the morning. Five men were arrested for theft and another man was arrested for handling stolen goods. Four have been given bail pending further enquiries.

Officers from the district’s CID department also managed to reunite 250 items of detained property with their rightful owners this week.

Detective Inspector Alan West said:

When police receive items of property that have been recovered from thefts and burglaries, officers try to trace the owners of the items to return their possessions to them. If electrical items are registered on Immobilise and other items such as jewellery or antiques are property marked with the owners address or postcode, this process can be straightforward.

However, unmarked or unregistered items can languish in the Detained Property Department unclaimed for long periods and some items can never be linked to an owner. I would really encourage the public to either register their items on Immobilise or mark them with a UV pen or other property marking device so we can return them to you if the worst were to happen. Marking your items can also sometimes act as a deterrent to would be criminals.

Neighbourhood officers and PCSOs were also in Taunton town centre this morning registering people’s property, such as mobile phones, cameras and mp3 players, on the Immobilise website and carrying out bike and property marking. The Deputy Chief Constable, Rob Beckley, joined them in giving festive advice on how to beat the burglars and assisted with a bicycle property marking session. The team will be in the town centre again on January 13 and 21 offering these services for those who had new bikes or electronic equipment for Christmas.

In Bridgwater, officers held a property marking session at Bridgwater College for the students to register mobile phones and laptops on the Immobilise website and officers from Burnham-on-Sea visited King Alfred School in Highbridge and Kings of Wessex School in Cheddar to take property marking kits to mark and record mobile phones and MP3 players. Other property marking sessions also took place in Wellington Square in Minehead and the Town Hall in Dulverton.

DCC Beckley said:

We really want people to have a wonderful Christmas and New Year but we ask them to take some sensible measures to ensure that their festive period isn’t marred by becoming a victim of opportunistic thieves. One-in-four burglaries occur after the householder failed to secure their home and the burglar entered the property via an open door or window!

I encourage people to think about how their house looks when they go out – don’t make it obvious that there is nobody home, leave a light on and the radio playing and most importantly – make sure you lock all doors and windows, even if you are only popping out for a short period of time.

Inspector Nick Greenhalgh from the Community Safety team at Taunton Police Station said people can help protect themselves from opportunistic thieves by employing these simple measures:

  • Ensure windows and doors are shut and locked when you are out
  • Lock sheds and garages
  • Don’t leave car keys left in an outside porch or within reach of letter boxes
  • Shoppers are advised not to leave presents in view on car seats. They should be taken home immediately and not left in the vehicle.
  • Christmas presents – wrapped or unwrapped – should not be left in view in the home.
  • Don’t leave boxes from new TVs or laptops on display outside your home, take them to the tip.
  • Register your property on www.immobilise.com
  • Mark your property – kits are available from your local police teams.

Further information regarding home security and crime prevention can be obtained from your local Safer Stronger Neighbourhood team. You can contact them by calling 0845 456 7000 or you can log on to our website www.avonandsomerset.police.uk and select the Crime Prevention heading.

To read the source article in full please go to: www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/LocalPages/NewsDetails.aspx?nsid=18923&t=1&lid=5

Cambridge: Protect your presents from Christmas thieves

The Cambs 24 website has reported that advice is being issued to Christmas shoppers in Huntingdonshire to help safeguard their presents from thieves.

Each year gifts are taken from vehicles or from under the Christmas tree in people’s homes. Chief Inspector Russell Waterston from Cambridgeshire police said:

There are often easy pickings for criminals this time of year.

People are in high spirits and are often transporting and storing lots of desirable goods.

But the same precautions should be taken at Christmas time as every other time of the year.

We don’t want to see expensive gifts disappearing from under the Christmas tree before the festivities begin.

Homeowners are being some simple advice:

  • Close the curtains once it gets dark outside, especially if the lights are on inside and not keep presents on show.
  • Presents should be removed overnight from vehicles.
  • Empty boxes, which could advertise the Christmas goodies inside the house, should not be left outside on view.
  • Once Christmas gifts are unwrapped, they can be registered for free at www.immobilise.com, which allows stolen goods to be identified and returned to the owner.

INFORMATION: Any suspicious behaviour should be reported to Cambridgeshire police on 0345 4564564.

To view the source article please go to: www.cambs24.co.uk

London Met Police See Rise in Phone Thefts at Music Gigs

Nine people have been arrested in London in the past fortnight as officers crack down on organised gangs of thieves targeting music fans carrying expensive mobile phones at crowded gigs.

Officers have recorded a rise in the number of thefts at indoor and outdoor music venues across the country.

They believe pickpockets are targeting top-end mobile phones used by many to take pictures and record acts on stage.

Investigators said surging crowds and booming music can make individuals more vulnerable to theft and help criminals escape. Members of the National Mobile Phone Crime Unit (NMPCU), based within the Metropolitan Police, have warned music venues of the trend.

Detective Superintendent Nev Nolan, who leads the unit, said:

We want all fans to enjoy their concert and to have a good experience.

We are concerned that organised thieves are targeting concerts to steal phones from genuine fans.

A lot of people like to use their mobile phones to film or take photographs of the concert, but will then return the phone to an insecure bag or pocket, where thieves are able to snatch it.

When they discover it is gone, many will simply assume it is lost and simply cancel the sim, without reporting it to the police.

A lot of people will be getting mobile phones for Christmas and we would urge them to keep them safe and to register their phones with the website Immobilise.com.

Source: The Press Association

Stolen phone is returned by Police thanks to Immobilise

The Haringey Independent has reported that a stolen mobile phone was returned to its rightful owner thanks to the Immobilise National Property Register.

While on patrol on October 27, in Seven Sisters Road, Tottenham, Haringey police’s safer transport team stopped-and-searched a 31-year-old man.

He was found to be carrying a mobile phone which was traced by the police* on website Immobilise.com to a woman who had reported it as stolen in September.

The man was arrested on suspicion of handling stolen goods and bailed to return to police on Monday, November 9.

PC Matt Fathers, of Haringey Safer Transport team, said:

This shows that by having your valuables registered on immobilise.com, the chances of having you lost or stolen property returned to you, are greater.

The stolen mobile has since been restored to the owner who was very pleased.

The free website allows users to register all of their valuables by serial number inlcuding mobile phones, laptops and even bikes.

If the property is stolen you can use the site to alert police, insurers or second-hand traders so that if they come across the goods they can be returned and help catch criminals.

To read the source report in full please go to: Haringley Independent

* The police search the Immobilise National Property Register and other information via their own search portal the NMPR.

Burglaries, robberies and theft jump as recession hits home – Times Online

The Times recently published an interesting article that is of particular relevance to the Immobilise National Property Register. Richard Ford, a Home Correspondent for the times reported that the latest recorded crime figures support the theory that the in a recession property crimes such as burglary and personal theft increase while violent offences fall.

Keith Bristow, chief constable of Warwickshire, said:

Crime has traditionally increased following periods of economic recession and the three per cent rise in domestic burglary compared to the same period last year is a reminder that we all must remain vigilant.

The Times article contains several interesting facts and statistics and can be found at:

www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article6885455.ece

The pocket spy: Will your smartphone rat you out? – New Scientist

by Linda Geddes (New Scientist)

The pocket spy: Will your smartphone rat you out? – tech – 14 October 2009 – New Scientist.

THERE are certain things you do not want to share with strangers. In my case it was a stream of highly personal text messages from my husband, sent during the early days of our relationship. Etched on my phone’s SIM card – but invisible on my current handset and thus forgotten – here they now are, displayed in all their brazen glory on a stranger’s computer screen.

I’ve just walked into a windowless room on an industrial estate in Tamworth, UK, where three cellphone analysts in blue shirts sit at their terminals, scrutinising the contents of my phone and smirking. “If it’s any consolation, we would have found them even if you had deleted them,” says one.

Worse, it seems embarrassing text messages aren’t the only thing I have to worry about: “Is this a photo of your office?” another asks (the answer is yes). “And did you enjoy your pizza on Monday night? And why did you divert from your normal route to work to visit this address in Camberwell, London, on Saturday?”

I’m at DiskLabs, a company that handles cellphone forensic analysis for UK police forces, but also for private companies and individuals snooping on suspect employees or wayward spouses. Armed with four cellphones, which I have begged, borrowed and bought off friends and strangers, I’m curious to know just how much personal information can be gleaned from our used handsets and SIM cards.

A decade ago, our phones’ memories could just about handle text messages and a contacts book. These days, the latest smartphones incorporate GPS, Wi-Fi connectivity and motion sensors. They automatically download your emails and appointments from your office computer, and come with the ability to track other individuals in your immediate vicinity. And there’s a lot more to come. Among other things, you could be using the next generation of phones to keep tabs on your health, store cash and make small transactions – something that’s already happening in east Asia (see “Future phones“).

Gone phishing

These changes could well be exploited in much the same way that email and the internet can be used to “phish” for personal information such as bank details. Indeed, some phone-related scams are already emerging, including one that uses reprogrammed cellphones to intercept passwords for other people’s online bank accounts. “Mobile phones are becoming a bigger part of our lives,” says Andy Jones, head of information security research at British Telecommunications. “We trust and rely on them more. And as we rely on them more, the potential for fraud has got to increase.”

So just how secure is the data we store on our phones? If we are starting to use them as combined diaries and wallets, what happens if we lose them or they are stolen? And what if we simply trade in our phones for recycling?

According to the UK government’s Design and Technology Alliance Against Crime (DTAAC), 80 per cent of us carry information on our handsets that could be used to commit fraud – and about 16 per cent of us keep our bank details on our phones. I thought my Nokia N96 would hold few surprises, though, since I had only been using it for a few weeks when I submitted it to DiskLabs. Yet their analysts proved me wrong.

Aside from the text messages stored on my SIM card, the most detailed personal information that could be gleaned from my handset came from an application called Sports Tracker. It allows users to measure their athletic performance over time and I had been using it to measure how fast I could cycle to work across London. It records distance travelled, fastest speed at different points along the route, changes in altitude, and roughly how many calories I burn off. But when DiskLabs uploaded this data to their computer and ran it through Google

they were able to pull up images of the front of my office and my home – with the house number clearly displayed. Sports Tracker also recorded what time I normally leave the house in the morning and when I return from work. “If I wanted more information, then I could just stalk you,” says Neil Buck, a senior analyst at DiskLabs.

I had deliberately chosen to turn Sports Tracker on, and many people might not stop to consider how such programs could be used against them. In February, Google launched Latitude, networking software for smartphones that shares your location with friends. It can be turned off, but campaign group Privacy International is concerned by Latitude’s complex settings and says it is possible the program could broadcast your location to others without your knowledge. “Latitude could be a gift to stalkers, prying employers, jealous partners and obsessive friends,” the organisation warns.

It is possible your phone could broadcast your location to others without your knowledge

A phone-based calendar could also leave you vulnerable. Police in the UK have already identified burglaries that were committed after the thief stole a phone and then targeted the individual’s home because their calendar said they were away on holiday, says Joe McGeehan, head of Toshiba’s research lab in Europe and leader of DTAAC’s Design Out Crime project, which recently set UK designers the challenge of trying to make cellphones less attractive to people like hackers and identity thieves. “It’s largely opportunistic, but if you’ve got all your personal information on there, like bank details, social security details and credit card information, then you’re really asking for someone to ‘become’ you, or rob you, or invade your corporate life,” McGeehan says.

Code cracker

When Buck looked at my colleague’s iPhone, he found two 4-digit numbers stored in his address book under the names “M” and “V”. A search through his text messages revealed a few from Virgin informing him that a new credit card, ending in a specific number, had just been mailed to him. Buck guessed that “M” and “V” were PIN codes for the Virgin credit card and a Mastercard – and he proved to be correct on both counts.

“Out of context, an individual piece of information such as an SMS is almost meaningless,” says Jones. “But when you have a large volume of information – a person’s diary for the year, his emails, the plans he’s building – and you start to put them together, you can make some interesting discoveries.”

In this way the DiskLabs team also identified my colleague’s wife’s name, her passport number and its expiry date, and that she banks with Barclays. Ironically, Barclays had contacted her regarding fraud on her card and she had texted this to her husband. Buck’s team also discovered my colleague’s email address, his Facebook contacts, and their email addresses.

This kind of personal data is valuable and can fetch a high price online. It’s ideal for so-called 419 scams, for instance, in which you receive an email asking for help in exporting cash from a foreign country via your bank account, in exchange for a share of the profits. “What they need to launch a successful 419 scam is personal information,” says Jones.

A growing awareness of identity theft means that many people now destroy or wipe computer hard drives before throwing them away, but the same thing isn’t yet happening with cellphones, says Jones. At the same time, we are recycling ever greater numbers of handsets. According to market analysts ABI Research, by 2012 over 100 million cellphones will be recycled for reuse each year.

As part of a study to find better ways to protect cellphone data, Jones recently acquired 135 cellphones and 26 BlackBerry devices from volunteers, cellphone recycling companies and online auctioneers eBay. Around half of the devices couldn’t be accessed because they were faulty. In our own smartphone experiment, we were unable to retrieve any data from a BlackBerry, or the Samsung E590.

However, Jones’s team found 10 phones that contained enough personal data to identify previous users, and 12 had enough information for their owner’s employer to be identified – even though just three of the phones contained SIM cards.

Of the 26 BlackBerrys, four contained information from which the owner could be identified and seven contained enough to identify the owner’s employer. “The big surprise was the amount we got off the BlackBerry devices, which we had expected to be much more secure,” says Jones. While BlackBerry users have the option of encrypting their data or sending a message to purge data from their phones should it be sold or stolen, many had not done this. “Security is only any good if you turn the damned thing on,” says Jones.

Security is only any good if you turn the damned thing on

His team managed to trace one BlackBerry back to a senior sales director of a Japanese corporation. They recovered his call history, 249 address book entries, his diary, 90 email addresses and 291 emails. This enabled them to determine the structure of his organisation and responsibilities of individuals working within it; the organisation’s business plans for the next period; its main customers and the state of its relationships with them; travel and accommodation arrangements of the individual; his family details – including children, their occupations and movements, marital status, addresses, domestic arrangements, appointments and addresses for medical and dental care; his bank account numbers and sort codes, and his car registration index. Two further BlackBerrys “contained details of a personal nature about the owner and other individuals that would have caused embarrassment or distress if it had become publicly known”, says Jones.

Although his team used specialist forensic software to retrieve data from the phones, much of it could be obtained directly from the handsets themselves, or by using simple software of the kind that is sold with a phone. “This was not designed to be a sophisticated attack, it used simple techniques that anyone would have access to,” Jones says.

That’s bad news, considering that around 20 millions handsets were lost or stolen worldwide in 2008, according to UK data-security specialists Recipero. So how can people go about making their phones more secure? Turning on the security settings is an important first step, says McGeehan, as this may dissuade potential thieves from going to the effort of trying to crack the codes. Then make sure you delete anything you want to keep secret, while bearing in mind that it is often possible to recover it (see “Phone security Q & A“). “I work on the basis that anything I put on there I’ve got to be prepared for people to see,” says McGeehan.

As for me, I’ve taken to deleting potentially incriminating messages as soon as they arrive in my inbox – and reproving the sender in return. I have also passed my old handset to my husband for safekeeping. If those brazen messages must fall into someone else’s hands, I’d rather they were the hands of the Don Juan who composed them than a smirking IT geek in a distant windowless room.

To read the rest of this article please go to: New Scientist

Portable scanners crack down on phone thieves

The News Shopper in Bromley has reported that thieves are facing instant detection on the streets after the borough’s police became the first in London to purchase portable scanners.

The handheld device scans the IMEI barcode inside the back of a mobile phone and checks it against the national property register to see if it is registered as stolen.

It can also be used to check mobile phones, laptops, MP3 players and bikes, and for phones where the barcode is not easily accessable officers can simply key in the IMEI number (accessable on all phones by keying *#06#) directly into the device.

Borough commander Chief Superintendent Charles Griggs said:

The operation is one of many throughout the year where we focus on the safety of the travelling public and tackling crime and disorder on public transport.

What is different is the use of Apollo. As a portable handheld solution Apollo offers my officers remote access to the national mobile phone register whether out in the field or in the custody suite and gives us the opportunity to quickly identify stolen property.

Bromley police is encouraging everyone to register with the secure national property register at immobilise.com.

This will help the police to identify items and return them to their owners if they get lost or stolen.

Anyone with information about robbery in Bromley should call the police on 01689 891212 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

To read the source article in full please go to: The News Shopper

Merseyside Police crack down on mobile phone and bike theft

The Formby Times has reported that Merseyside Police have been cracking down on youths who steal mobile phones and bikes.

Laura Jones of the Formby Times noted that since May 1 the operation has led to 44 arrests, 11 of those for robbery resulting in five people charged and six bailed.

Police officers have made 462 stop searches and 91 stop checks, while also checking up on 568 “vulnerable premises”.

During the operation 74 mobile phones have been checked against the Immobilise National Property Register which can help reunite victims of robbery with their phones.

The operation has already seen a decrease in crime in the targeted areas.

Along with more patrols and increased intelligence gathering the Police have been working with Secondary School pupils.

Chief Inspector Stuart Ellison said:

With the summer holidays coming arriving soon I want to give out a very strong but clear message, that the Police are cracking down on crime and disorder throughout Sefton and if you or have the intention of committing crime you be caught, arrested and prosecuted.

To read the source article in full please go to: Formby Times Online

£250K New Home Office funding to tackle mobile phone crime

The Home Office has recently announced that £250,000 of funding has been made available to help police more swiftly identify stolen mobile phones.

The scheme will see the Police National Computer (PNC) linked to the National Mobile Phone Register (NMPR) enabling frontline officers to quickly and easily check if a phone has been registered as stolen from its rightful owner.

Home Office Minister, Alan Campbell said:
By working closely with the mobile phone industry we have already put in place measures to make it harder for thieves to profit from mobile phone theft – around 90% of handsets reported stolen are now blocked within 24 hours of reporting reducing their value and the incentive for thieves.

Linking the National Mobile Phone Register to the Police National Computer will also provide enormous benefits to the fight against mobile phone crime. Currently an average of 25% of searches result in the police obtaining vital information that could result in property being retrieved and cases being solved. I believe that putting this invaluable tool at frontline officer’s fingertips will see that number rise further.

The NMPR (National Mobile Property Register) is the national police database of registered property ownership and stolen property records. It is linked to voluntary databases – such as Immobilise.com, where people can enter their phone’s details. So if the phone is lost or stolen police can identify it and return it to the rightful owner.

To read the offical Home Office press release go to: Home Office Press Release

To visit the National Mobile Phone Register (NMPR) go to: NMPR

To visit the NMPCU (National Mobile Phone Crime Unit) go to: NMPCU