490 phone-theft related deaths prompts govt action

After the deaths of some 490 people in phone-theft related incidents in the past year, the government has announced new measures to restrict the usage and resale of stolen phones, Caracol Radio reported Friday.

Robberies related to cellular telephones constitute around 45% of all incidents of reported theft, which has prompted the government to attempt to stem the tide of violence that accompanies it.

A key part of the new decree will make it illegal to sell cell phones from unauthorized outlets, with the current unauthorized stores being given two months from Friday to apply for a license.

The minister of information technology and communications, Diego Molano, explained that there will also be two databases established. The so-called “positive” and “negative” lists will respectively document all the legally registered equipment in the country, as well as that reported stolen.

Victims of phone theft will accordingly be able to place their cell phones on the “blacklist” and prevent the use of their information and the sim card itself.

Molano further explained that each phone will have a specific identification number which will mean that, once reported stolen, it will not be able to be unlocked with another sim card.

The minister stated that the cost of cell phones will not be increased by the fact that all outlets require licenses.

One of the most recent victims of phone-theft was Father Gustavo Garcia, a priest who was stabbed to death on May 12 by thieves in Bogota.

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