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Baking security into the handset at the manufacturing stage could stop organised crime from targeting shipments, says Ben Cade, founder and CEO of mobile app security developer Trustonic.

How operators are tackling widespread theft of handsets

Getting a phone stolen is frustrating. But when it happens thousands of times, that’s when it starts to be a big problem. In 2016, almost half a million people in the UK had their phone stolen. The GSMA reports that over 4 million pre-paid devices are stolen in the United States every year, with American operators reporting a 200% YOY increase in armed robberies at retail stores in 2017.

It’s not just individual phones being stolen either, but entire shipping containers, truckloads and shopfuls, which then feed into a global trafficking trade. This is a systemic issue, costing operators in the US alone above $900 million in lost revenue every year, eroding customer trust and causing distress for countless consumers and employees on the receiving end of robberies.

In addition, if theft is not causing enough of a problem, operators also need to worry about insurance fraud, whereby unscrupulous individuals sell a device after making a false warranty claim that it is faulty; as well as the sale of subsidized devices before the contract terms have been met. These contribute to further millions in lost revenue.

So what are operators doing about it?

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