Stolen phone: How to avoid police wahala, dealer counsels

Stolen phone: How to avoid police wahala, dealer counsels




A popular phone merchant in Ogbomoso, Oyo state, Mr. Joseph Olatunde Akinola, has advised Nigerians on steps to take to avoid getting entangled in the mess of tracked stolen phones.


Mobile phones are constantly stolen which are resold as “second hand” or “used” at cheap prices. The new buyer may be unaware of this. There are also hanky panky by unscrupulous phone repairers who may tinker with phone features or parts taken to them for repairs to make a validly bought phone appear as stolen. With technology now available for tracking, an innocent person may thus get slammed with accusation of phone theft and face police prosecution.


To avoid such trap is why Mr. Akinola, fondly called T-Fat, and who operates a popular mobile phone merchandise shop – Igbala-Olu Communications – at Takie area, has taken time to sensitize Nigerians on how to avoid falling a victim of accusation of phone theft.



According to him, his recent experience motivated him to give the advice saying only one precaution he took when he sold a phone in his shop few years ago saved him from being roped into such mess.


Writing on his Facebook account, T-Fat stated he was invited by police officers attached to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) X – Squad at their Ogbomoso office, Favour area, to answer to suspicion of selling stolen phone.


“I answered the invitation,” he told when called on phone for clarification.


“When l got there, they accused me of selling a stolen phone which after it’s tracked and found, l was mentioned as the seller.”


But it was a mix up. What happened is this.


“A customer bought a phone – Spark 7p 4/64 in 2021. We issued a receipt for him then. We wrote the receipt with imei number on it corresponding with the carton and phone.


“But recently, l was invited by people who claimed they are from IGP X Squad. They accused me of having sold a stolen phone.


“A stolen phone was tracked and the person in its possession turned out to be the person we sold phone to in 2021. They confronted me threateningly with the allegation of selling stolen phone.


“But l did not panic since we don’t deal in such. I requested to check and confirm the imei number of the phone in question. After checking the phone, I found out that the receipt and the carton matched but the imei number written on the phone does not tally.


“And so I told them confidently that was not the phone we sold. I explained two things could have happened.


“Either he stole another phone like the one we sold or he took the phone for repair at an engineer’s workshop and the engineer changed the panel to the stolen phone without his knowledge.”


He added, “The owner of the stolen phone tracked the phone down to like the 4th generation owner who had our receipt. Unfortunately, the buyers only looked at the receipt, they did not check the imei.”


T-Fat informed imei number can be checked using a code – *#06#.


What does IMEI stand for? According to Google it is ‘International Mobile Equipment Identity. Think of it as your phone’s fingerprint — it’s a 15-digit number unique to each device. Phone carriers and manufacturers share IMEI numbers to enable tracking of smartphones that may be stolen or compromised.”


He now submitted that if he did not compose himself while facing police interrogation or does not have expertise in his line of business and able to explain clearly to his interrogators, he could have landed in trouble as the police were out to rattle him into admission of wrongdoing.


He so advised, “Never be in haste, when selling your good, and don’t implicate yourself when writing statement at the police station. Don’t let them intimidate you with cells or detention, be composed.


“If my worker had not written the imei no on the receipt I would have been almost implicated, though I might be able to get off the mess if am able to defend why imei on the phone is different from the carton’s.


“So, always tell your staffers to ensure the imei no is well written and let the customer sign where he needs to sign. Tell customers to always take their phones to qualified, trusted hand for repairs if it is already out of warranty and likewise, ensure you check your imei before and after repairs.”


He further said, “The policemen at IGP X Squad wanted to make me panic but I wrote what is necessary in my statement and likewise advised them in my statement. I want to assert that the police may be both friend and enemy. Many times the police know the truth but sidestep the truth.”

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