Search for “Cell Phone Snatching” in google and many of the results will be about mobile phone snatching in Pakistan. It is a problem all over the world – but with the explosive growth of mobile phone subscribers in Pakistan this menace has also risen to an alarming proportion. As the media and bloggers have been pointing out, the IMEI blocking system put in place a few months ago by the government has many limitations and therefore its effectiveness is very limited. In addition to the technical aspect, this problem requires a combination of social, administrative and legislative solution.

The cell phone industry is working on improvements to the hardware and chips to make the phones and the data on it more secure. However the set of standards and changes will take a while to reach us. What can we do now? A recent article in WIRED magazine has some interesting tips about fighting phone snatching. Of course none of these tips and techniques by themselves can effectively foil cell phone thieves and snatchers. The article suggests these:

4 Antitheft Technologies (Source: WIRED magazine)

ScreamerThe Remote XT harasses UK cell-swipers with a loud, high-pitched human scream (the service puts a recording of a woman shrieking on your phone). The system activates when the owner calls a hotline. The nerve-jarring wails accompany a complete data wipe and button lockdown, creating one useless piece of plastic.

Gait and Voice RecognitionResearchers at Finland’s VTT Technical Research Centre are developing a sensor system that enables a phone to recognize its owner’s unique style of walking. The plan is to combine this gait monitor with voice recognition software, so if your gadget senses a different stride or vocal pitch, it locks up and requests a password.

Holster SensorCanada’s Research in Motion (of BlackBerry fame) is working on a phone that pairs wirelessly with its holster. If the two get separated, the phone locks up and asks for a password, and an alert goes off on the holster, notifying the owner immediately – provided, of course, the thief didn’t steal the holster, too.

GPS TrackerJapanese mega telecom NTT DoCoMo introduced six handsets equipped with a GPS tracking service in October. If one of these phones goes missing, you can just log onto a Web site and locate it on a map. Then all you have to do is confront the pickpocket or get the police to give a damn about a stolen phone.

I’ll leave you with an advertisement clip from Sprint, a US company about using its phone as a crime deterrent. Some of you will find it hilarious.

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