The number of devices reported lost or stolen in Canada decreased by 27 percent in 2015

Ian Hardy

February 24, 2016 12:19pm

The number of devices reported lost or stolen in Canada decreased by 27 percent, according to the latest numbers from the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA).

The advocacy group and its carrier partners — Rogers, Telus, Bell, EastLink, Videotron, SaskTel, Wind and MTS — launched a national cellphone blacklist back in 2013 to deter thieves from stealing smartphones.

As part of the CWTA’s registration process, every smartphone activated in Canada has an IMEI (International Mobile Station Equipment Identity) number. If a smartphone is reported lost or stolen, a carrier adds its IMEI number to blacklist, preventing the device from being activated on a network operated by one of the other carriers that participates in the program.

The report revealed the total number of lost or stolen devices in 2015 was 444,196, which is a decrease from 606,274 in 2014. The actual number of lost or stolen smartphones could be higher as this report only includes devices that were added to the blacklist. The total number of stolen devices amounted to 120,031, while the number of lost devices tallied 319,744. Ontario led the country with 196,939 lost or stolen devices, followed by Quebec, Alberta, and British Columbia.

Another interesting stat is the number of times the CWTA’s IMEI lookup tool was used in 2015. This tool allows Canadians to check the status of a used device before being purchased so they don’t buy a stolen smartphone. In 2015, the service was used 625,147 time, up from 522,207 in 2015 — which could mean more and more people are buying used phones on websites like Kijiji.

In a statement to MobileSyrup, the CWTA’s Marc Choma said, “CWTA and its members are really pleased to see the decrease in lost and stolen phones, as well as the increase in the use of the public IMEI look-up tool. The look-up tool was the first of its kind to be launched in the world, and Canadians are increasingly becoming aware of it as a way to help protect themselves from inadvertently buying a blacklisted device.”

cwta lost stoeln

Source CWTA
  • jndvrk

    I’d be curious to get more information about the lost phones. That’s where the numbers really went down, and the national blacklist has nothing to do with preventing that.

    • Aaron Hoyland

      True, but if you consider the increased number of phones in use across the country, I imagine both numbers went down substantially on a per-capita basis.

  • Aaron Hoyland

    I understand that Telus is not part of the CWTA. However, are they still a part of the blacklist? I assume so, but they’re not explicitly mentioned in the article.

    • mxmgodin

      The original article about the blacklist’s launch cites Telus too:

      The CWTA and its carrier partners, including Rogers, Bell, TELUS, EastLink, Videotron, SaskTel, and MTS, have launched a national cellphone blacklist.

      So just a little omission in the current article, I guess.

    • Aaron Hoyland

      Yeah, they were a member of the CWTA back when the blacklist was originally created (2013). They withdrew from the group in Feb. 2014, but it looks like they agreed to remain part of certain projects, including the blacklist.

    • mxmgodin

      Ah ok, I wasn’t aware of their withdrawal.

  • heynow00

    It’s my understanding that every carrier in Canada uses the blacklist now, is that correct?

    And how do they determine when a number is added to the blacklist if it was a lost phone or stolen phone?

    • David

      As a sales rep for Koodo, when a customer comes in to report a lost or stolen phone, we call the call center to report the device and they ask whether it’s lost or stolen. So it’s the carrier that adds the device to the list, not the individual customer. The customer just reports it.

    • Aaron Hoyland

      Believe you’re correct. If you include sub-brands (Fido, Koodo, Virgin, Chatr, Mobilicity), I think the list of carriers at the top of the article includes everyone operating in Canada.

    • pjw

      From the linked CWTA document:
      “Not all service providers record lost and stolen devices separately. Those that do record lost and stolen devices separately do so based on the customer’s report only.”

      So, some providers blacklist phones without specifying lost or stolen, and not necessarily by request of a customer.

  • Brad Fortin

    Wow, I had no idea people were 3x more likely to lose their phone than to have it stolen. I thought the proportions would have been the opposite.