Victims of crime whose wifi-enabled smart phone, tablet or notebook computer is stolen will soon have a better chance of getting it back, thanks to changes to the Pawnbrokers and Second-hand Dealers Regulation in NSW. Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation Victor Dominello said the changes will include forcing pawn shop staff to record media access control (MAC) addresses for mobile phones, tablets and notebook computers – the three most commonly stolen electronic devices.
“We are living in the digital age and consumers are purchasing a range of valuable wifi devices. From 1 June this year, a licence condition for pawnbrokers accepting certain electronic goods will be to capture the MAC address and provide it to NSW Police,” he said.
“I strongly urge consumers to record their MAC address, which can be easily located on the device, but also stored on a router they may be used at home or work.”
To connect to a wifi network, electronic devices have an internal 12-character MAC address. This is assigned by the manufacturer, and unique to the device. The address is usually in the settings menu, but can’t be erased.
Inspector Tony Heyward of NSW Police’s Operational Information Agency said Police will compare MAC addresses recorded by pawnbrokers against those provided to them by victims of theft. When there’s a match, they can reunite the device with its owner.
“A total of 19,179 mobile phones were stolen from NSW citizens in 2015. During the same period, thieves also stole 7696 notebook computers and 5104 tablets,” he said. “The MAC address is such a simple yet powerful crime-fighting tool, and this is yet another way NSW Police and our partner agencies are staying one step ahead of criminals.”
More information is available at www.police.nsw.gov.au.