Punishment for changing IMEI numbers - UKE

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Punishment for changing IMEI numbers

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Polish penal code provides grounds for pursuing individuals changing IMEI numbers in the stolen cellular phones, states the Ministry of Justice.


From the 1st of January 2005 Telecommunication law obliges mobile network operators to block IMEI numbers of stolen mobile handsets after the notification of theft made by the holder. Blocking IMEI number ascribed to a concrete mobile handset prevents this device from being used via another SIM card.

However, according to the data published in the national press we are dealing with illegal activity connected with “breaking” of blockade for IMEI numbers in the stolen mobile handsets and the sale of these devices in the secondary market. The media also say that the number of stolen phones may even reach one million handsets a year.

In this regard the President Witold Graboś turned on the 12th January 2005 to the Minister of Justice with a question whether the existing legal provisions enable effective pursuit of individuals changing IMEI identification numbers. The President of URTiP also pointed out that it was necessary that the police, public prosecutor’s office and courts undertook intensive activities against individuals introducing stolen handsets into the secondary circulation.

Additionally the President Witold Graboś presented to the Minister of Justice information collected from the regulators from EU Member States concerning the detailed legal provisions as regards combating the plaque of mobile phones theft and punishing individuals changing IMEI numbers. Moreover, during a special press conference the President of URTiP presented information for consumers on the applied procedures regarding mobile phones theft notification and blocking them by the operators and advised how to protect oneself from buying a stolen mobile handset in the secondary market. This advice is available on the URTiP website.

On the 1st of March 2005 the President of URTiP received a response from the Deputy General Prosecutor, Mr. Karol Napierski from the Ministry of Justice. In the opinion of the prosecutor at present it is not recommended to introduce new provisions in the scope of punishing individuals reprogramming IMEI numbers.

The penal code (art. 270 § 1 penal code) provides the possibility of punishment for changing an IMEI number by an unauthorized person, treating the phone handset marked with an IMEI number as a document (recorded carrier of information). The necessary condition to inflict a punishment is establishing that the perpetrator acted with the intention of direct use of a changed handset as an authentic one.

Another possibility of inflicting the punishment is accepting that the perpetrator removes, forges or changes the identification mark of the device because the IMEI number ascribed to a mobile phone is its identification mark.

Summing up the above provisions of the penal code, we can assume that the perpetrator responsible for changing the IMEI number in the stolen phone commits simultaneously two crimes. This accumulation may affect the sentence. Nevertheless the prosecutor underlined that the factor verifying correctness of the views presented by him will be exclusively the court practice.


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