The Telecommunications Forum has launched a system for combating mobile phone theft after a year of development by Vodafone, Telecom and 2degrees.
The mobile operators joined forces to create the system that lets them block a phone's unique identification number (IMEI) if the device has been reported as stolen across any of the three major networks.
It taps into the database held by the GSM Association, a global group of mobile operators, handset makers and IT firms which sets standards for and protes the GSM cellphone system.
Once the IMEI is blocked, the device is rendered useless even if a thief or recipient of the phone switches the telco provider or changes the SIM.
“Mobile phones have become more and more important to us over the past few years, says Telecommunications Forum chief executive David Stone.
"For many people, their mobile is not just a phone – it is also their camera, watch, diary, encyclopaedia, map and social organiser. "This makes smartphones very desirable items, but unfortunately it also makes them a prime target for thieves. The blacklisting system aims to address this problem."
Superintendent Steve Christian, the national manager of mobility for New Zealand Police said there had been a significant gap in the market for a blacklisting system.