Four people were being questioned after police mounted a series of dawn raids against suspected mobile phone fraudsters who are suspected of making hundreds of bogus warranty claims on stolen handsets.
Officers raided seven homes and two business across Birmingham and arrested the four suspects after intelligence was handed over by mobile phone manufacturers.
Officers from west and central Birmingham who forced entry to one of two addresses in Handsworth’s Westminster Road in the search for stolen phones.
Occupants at the unconnected addresses are suspected of claiming a total of 47 new handsets in the last 18 months.
More than 20 handsets were recovered from one of the two Handsworth addresses and 60 were seized in total. Two people were arrested in Handsworth, one in Bordesley Green and one in Aston.
The National Mobile Phone Crime Unit, working with manufacturers, raised concerns about a number of alleged ‘customers’ in Birmingham who have made repeated warranty claims for replacement phones.
The replaced phones are then sold on with no trace that they have been lost, stolen or blocked by network providers.
At one of the nine targeted addresses the occupant is alleged to have claimed 219 handsets under warranty in the space of just two years.
Some of the phones claimed for in Westminster Road had allegedly been stolen from the West Midlands, Leicestershire, Norfolk, Derbyshire and London.
Any recovered phones will now be checked against the National Mobile Property Database to see if they have been reported as lost or stolen.
Superintendant Andy Parsons, who is leading Operation Network, said: “Mobile phones are currently the most stolen commodity and are very desirable on the stolen property market.
“This operation is targeting those who fraudulently claim for the stolen handsets and then sell on the brand new phones.”
“It’s important to remember that even if you buy a second hand phone in good faith, if it is stolen, you could still be arrested for handling stolen property. If you’re buying a mobile phone from someone and the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
Supt Parsons also urged mobile phone owners to register their gadgets on the national database www.immobilise.com, which helps police reunite owners with lost or stolen items should they be recovered.
In October 2012, the Force launched Operation Network, which aimed to raise awareness of mobile phone theft by encouraging people to register their phones and use tracker apps.
Latest figures show almost 500 mobile phones are stolen in the region every month.