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Police warn Calgarians about increase in cellphone thefts

Calgary police warn potential buyers about increase in cellphone thefts
WATCH: Investigators said Calgary is seeing an uptick in the amount of cellphones being stolen. As Tracy Nagai reports, there are a number things people can do to protect themselves.

Calgary police said Wednesday they’ve been seeing an increase in cellphone thefts and the stolen merchandise is quickly ending up online.

“Twenty-four hours, sometimes two to three days,” Staff Sgt. Mark England said. “Because they’re offering them at a reduced price, people are very interested in buying them.”

READ MORE: Police urge proper disposal of old phones after spike in calls from devices without SIM cards

England said thieves are targeting both individuals and stores and potential buyers need to be careful.

“Especially with the release of new cellphones in the fall, we’re seeing a lot of those new ones coming out,” he explained. “We’re also coming out of the Christmas season and people have received new electronic devices and are trying to sell old ones.”

READ MORE: Four arrested in mid-day Calgary cellphone store robbery

Police said one way people can protect themselves is by asking the seller for the phone’s 15-digit serial number. Investigators said every phone has a unique number which can be checked online at devicecheck.ca

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“If the device has been reported stolen, the phone on the black list is deactivated on the carrier’s network,” Katherine Winchester with the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Network explained.

“Once it’s been blacklisted, the device cannot be used on any participating network.”

READ MORE: Edmonton police make arrest in Kijiji cellphone scams

But not everyone is convinced there’s enough being done to protect the consumer.

“The people selling the phones and stealing the phones aren’t affected at all,” said Geoff D’arcy, the owner of Cell Phone Repair. “Generally because, by the time they’ve stolen it and sold it, it’s not on the blacklist and the people buying it are the ones hurt.”

Calgary police also recommend people bring a friend or family member with them when meeting the seller and say people should ask to meet the person at a public place like a police station.

WATCH BELOW (Nov. 15, 2019): SIM card swapping scam leaves victims vulnerable to identity theft

SIM card swapping scam leaves victims vulnerable to identity theft
SIM card swapping scam leaves victims vulnerable to identity theft