At least 37 larceny cases related to mobile phones were reported every month to the Thimphu police in the last one year.

Of the total of 453 reported cases, 109 cases were detected and charge-sheeted to court.

A police official said some of the cases are under investigation because police are yet to get the response from a service provider (Bhutan Telecom Ltd).

About 358 cases were registered under larceny, 83 under larceny of property lost delivered by mistake, and two cases under larceny by deception.

Four people lodged complaints that their mobile phones were snatched; six reported that they lost their phones to pickpocketing.

Lost mobile phones were tracked with the help of the device’s unique International Mobile Station Equipment Identity (IMEI) number. A few cases were detected with the help of CCTV.

The official said that when they receive complaint of theft of mobile phone, the first thing they ask is IMEI number of the claimed lost mobile phone. The phone’s IMEI number is sent to the service providers along with a warrant from the court.

In most cases, person who has stolen or retrieved a lost mobile phone removes and discards the SIM (Subscriber Identification Module) card. “So, we do SIM sourcing through IMEI number and track down the recent SIM latched to the IMEI number.”

“The Bhutan Telecom provides us with the user details of the number on which the device is activated following the theft,” an official said. “Most of the time, when the user of the number is interrogated, they claim that they bought the phone from somebody else or they found the phone.”

Buyers of pre-used mobile phones are advised to have the details of the seller to avoid getting charged for the theft of a mobile phone. “Those who retrieve the lost mobile phone should either try to contact the phone owner by keeping the phone on or report to police.”

Besides keeping note of the IMEI number, phone owners are also advised to inform the service provider to block the SIM to prevent misuse after they lose their phone.

Dechen Tshomo