Mobile phone recycling firms have signed up to a new code of practice, announced by the UK government on Friday, that requires them to check whether a mobile phone has been reported stolen before exporting it.
Currently, if a mobile phone is stolen, when the owner reports the theft, the phone is remotely blocked, preventing the thief from using the phone in the UK.
However, the blocked mobile phone can work on networks outside UK, so thieves have been selling stolen handsets to mobile recycle companies that export phones for use outside the UK.
Police have said that, on average, 100,000 stolen mobile phones with an average value of £40 are sent to recycling companies for resale.
According to the new rules, when buying a phone from anyone, the recycling company would first have to check on a nation-wide data base, the National Mobile Phone Register, to see if the phone has been registered stolen.
So far 20 mobile phone recycling companies, around 90 per cent of the industry, have already adopted the strategy.