Million-dollar BlackBerry heist remains unsolved

These BlackBerry smartphones are just too hot to handle.

In fact you could end up in big trouble if authorities ever spot you with one of these phones.

Just days following Research in Motion’s (RIM) release of its latest line of BlackBerry handsets, police reported that thieves have stolen about 2,700 units of the devices from a warehouse in Mississauga, Ont. Peel Region Police said the heist was worth over $1 million.

Smartphone thefts are a common occurrence, but the officer-on-case said that this is probably the first time that authorities have had to deal with an incident of this size. “Each case if different, but have we handled anything of this size? Not that I know of,” said Police Constable Leo Walker.

Walker told that sometime between the night of Aug. 19 and Aug. 20, a warehouse on Slough Street in Mississauga was broken into. The suspects took off with three skids of BlackBerry smartphones.

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A police bulletin described the phones as BlackBerry Torch 9810s. Nine hundred of the phones are gray and 1,800 are white. Walker said he could not reveal the exact location of the warehouse or its owner because this could jeopardize ongoing investigations.

Public warned about hot phones

Last Friday, an ad appeared on the online classified site Kijiji, informing the public about the theft. The posting, titled Peel Police – Stolen BlackBerry Smartphones said there was no suspect yet but warned that identification and PIN numbers from the stolen phones have been recorded by the police.

“Investigators would like to remind the public that being found in possession of a stolen smartphone is a criminal offence,” the notice said.

Claudiu Popa, security expert and president of the Toronto-based security firm Informatica Inc., said that “hard-coded PINs” are a common security feature in smartphones today.

“These numbers are unique to the associated device. If the phone is registered as stolen, once that device is activated it raises a flag and the wireless service provider can locate the phone,” said Popa who is also a blogger on security matters with

Because of this, Popa doubts that the stolen BlackBerry phones will ever be sold intact in North America. “If they are going to be sold in operating order, it will not be in a jurisdiction where they can easily be traced. These phones will likely end up in another country.”
“BlackBerry smartphones are very popular in foreign countries and many users will be willing to pay top dollar for the latest models,’ Popa said.

On the other hand, if the robbers decide to get rid of the phones in North America, he said they would likely be “cannibalized” and sold for parts.

What do you do if somebody offers you a “great deal” on the latest BlackBerry that seems just too good to be true?
“Think twice. If the price is too good to be true, it probably is,” said Popa.

If you suspect a stolen smartphone is being passed onto you, Const. Walker said, contact the 21 Division Criminal Investigation Bureau. Investigators can be reached at 905- 453-2121 ext. 2133. You can also leave information anonymously by calling the Peel Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or by going to

Nestor ArellanoNestor Arellano is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter, read his blog, and join the IT Business Facebook Page.

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