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Peru Takes Stricter Measures Against Cellphone Theft: A Model for Colombia?

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Peru has recently made a decisive move against the illicit trade and theft of mobile devices, unveiling a law that mandates prison sentences ranging from 12 to 30 years for those caught in the act. But this law doesn’t merely focus on cellphones. It stretches its jurisdiction to include thefts of other electronic gadgets, such as computers.

A particular point of emphasis in this legislation is the enhanced penalties for crimes committed with the use of explosives or motor vehicles. Aiming at ‘moto-robbers’ – criminals who perpetrate theft while riding motorcycles on public roads – the law seeks to crack down on this increasingly prevalent method of crime that benefits from the quick getaways motorcycles offer.

Central to the government’s strategy is to fortify preventive steps against the illicit cellphone market. This newfound focus on citizen security has become a possibility thanks to the legislative powers granted by the Congress.

Intriguingly, this law also introduces two fresh categories of offenses. One pertains to the unauthorized possession of activated SIM cards. The other criminalizes the sale of devices with altered identification numbers, or IMEIs.

The backdrop to these stricter regulations is the pervasive issue of cellphone theft in Peru. With a growing demand for inexpensive or second-hand phones, this form of crime has surged. The agile ‘moto-robbers’, who often elude capture due to their swift exit strategies, are a significant part of the problem. By imposing stiffer penalties, the Peruvian government hopes to deter potential thieves effectively.

But the objective is broader than safeguarding individual phone owners. Businesses, which are frequent victims of such thefts, also stand to benefit. Ultimately, this legislation represents a concerted effort to boost public safety and throttle the illegal electronics trade.

Why Colombia Should Consider a Similar Approach

As tourism continues to flourish in Colombia, the safety and security of both tourists and residents should be a paramount concern. Mobile devices, being essential tools for communication and navigation, are invaluable to tourists. An increase in cellphone theft, therefore, could deter potential visitors.

By observing Peru’s proactive approach, Colombia can glean some insights:

  1. Deterrence through Stricter Penalties: Just as Peru has recognized, harsher penalties can act as strong deterrents. The prospect of spending decades in prison for cellphone theft might make potential thieves reconsider their actions.
  2. Broadening the Scope: Including other electronic devices in the legislation, as Peru has done, provides comprehensive protection against gadget thefts, benefiting not just tourists but also local businesses.
  3. Targeting the Root: By criminalizing the unauthorized possession of SIM cards and the sale of devices with tampered IMEIs, the law attacks the root of the illegal trade, making it less lucrative.
  4. Boosting Tourism: Safety is a prime consideration for tourists. If Colombia can ensure that visitors feel secure, it can bolster its image as a prime tourist destination.

In conclusion, while each nation has its unique challenges and dynamics, there’s much Colombia can learn from Peru’s decisive action against cellphone theft. Such measures could not only make Colombia safer for its residents but also enhance its appeal as a secure and welcoming destination for tourists.

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