In a stuffy 10X10 room with two desks, a heap of case files, a host of “recovered” rifles, a tangle of wires and a laptop, sits bespectacled inspector Govind Sharma. For him, a mobile phone is more than a fancy communication gadget. It’s also his bread and butter and the source of countless sleepless nights. He is the man in charge of tracking lost, robbed and stolen mobile phones in the capital.
Sharma is busy tallying a series of 10-digit numbers with the information on his laptop. A few clicks and the system is linked to mobile towers that gives him the location of a phone. “I am not tracking terrorists or intercepting calls of criminals but helping recover lakhs of mobile phones. These complaints usually go unheard of as they are considered petty,” Sharma said.
The police control room, on average, transfers at least 150 complaints every day to Sharma. He contacts the respective telecom service providers to access database for that particular IEMI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number.
When he gets information that a phone with a particular IEMI number is being used by someone, Sharma uses his high-end software to trace the location of the phone — from the telecom tower closest to the user. He then dispatches his team of five, comprising a sub-inspector, two head constables and two constables, to recover the phone from the user. “I have three such teams and they have gone as far as Nepal to recover phones,” he said.
“Earlier, when the district police handled these complaints, they had to seek a series of permissions from higher officers to even access a call detail record. Special Cell, because of the nature of its operations, already has these permissions and this makes the work faster,” Special Commissioner of Police (Special Cell) S N Srivastava said.
Sharma has been tracking phones for the past three months and has recovered 40 phones till date. “The recovery rate is 25 per cent, which is more that what it was earlier. It is a pleasure to hand over phones, many of which are of great sentimental value to their owners. A woman once smiled and thanked me for returning a phone her husband gifted her,” Sharma said.