Tracking mobile phones, a Herculean task for police


The cell phone has become an integral part of the crime world as well as a potent tool for investigation. Today, the entire communication of the criminals take place through cell phones, plans are sketched through the mobile and similarly, CDR (call data record) and tracking cell phones help police in cracking cases. But the police find it a Herculean task to track the cell phones.

Primarily, the police do not have access to track the cell phones and have to depend on the service provider to get the location details.

Recently, the City Task Force busted an IPL betting racket and it was done by tracking the cell network.

But it took 10 days for the CTF team to zero in on the bookies.

“The process is a cumbersome one and we do not have access to the technology. We have to request the operator to give us the location,” said CTF ACP I. Chittibabu.

“The operators give us location details based on latitude and longitude coordinates. We have to then decode it and proceed. But the radius could be between 30 to 150 metres. And if it is a densely populated area, then it is difficult to reach the exact location,” said Mr. Chittibabu.

False address

Another cause that worries the police is false address of the cell users. Most the criminals get mobiles by giving false address and while tracking the police are led to a blind alley.

The operators to fulfil their targets do not bother to check the address proof while selling the SIM cards.

And in some cases the salesman themselves use the address proof of genuine customers to pre-active the SIMs and sell them to users.

“Every person can have up to nine SIM cards. After selling one to a genuine customer, the other eight are sold to different persons based on the same address proof,” said Joint Commissioner Nagendra Kumar.

Going by the present trend, the criminals buy low cost mobiles that are available for ₹1500 in the market and after committing a crime they discard the mobile and the SIM. This trend was noticed in a few recent high-profile crimes such as Gedala Raju murder case.

It is mandatory for the cell and mobile companies to cross check the address, but rarely it is being done.

The bill should contain the address proof with at least one valid alternative number, said sub-inspector Satish of CTF.

Sumit Bhattacharjee

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