How To Catch a Thief with a SIM Card and MySpace

It’s always nice to see the bad guys get what’s coming to them. There’s this girl from Brooklyn who gets her cell phone stolen back in January. The thief, apparently ignorant of what a SIM card is / does, uses his newly “found” cell phone to surf the web and check email. This girl, who does understand what a SIM card can do, gets a new cell phone, gets the SIM card data transferred over and VOILA – one thief’s email address. She then finds him listed on MySpace (who doesn’t have a MySpace account these days?), and with a friend tries a little social engineering (e.g. flirting) with the thief to get him to send a photo, which she promptly takes to the police, who arrest him and connect him to another crime as well. Here’s the article from WCBSTV in New York and a link to the video.

It got me thinking — just how much is stored on a SIM card? I mean I’ve heard stories about electronic key cards at hotels storing your name, address, sometimes credit card information all on it’s magic little magnetic strip; so I always take those home and shred them — just in case! Of course, I also shred the stickers that come on pizza boxes with my name and address and any envelop with my name on it; so perhaps I’m paranoid. But, still…

So, what is a SIM card. Here’s a link to a Wiki article and a very short explanation from for those uninitiated.

A Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) is a removable smart card for mobile cellular telephony devices such as mobile computers and mobile phones. SIM cards securely store the service-subscriber key (IMSI) used to identify a GSM subscriber. The SIM card allows users to change phones by simply removing the SIM card from one mobile phone and inserting it into another mobile phone or broadband telephony device.

And, what does a SIM card store? This is where it gets a little hazy as it seems to be largely dependent on the service provider, type of phone, etc…but a good guess is that it holds all Incoming SMS messages, Contact Information, and apparently email addresses and web sites with some phones.

So, long and short of it is, if you get your cell phone stolen, you have some possible tools to catch the thief. But, let’s hope the thief isn’t smart enough to think to pull your data off the SIM card first. In other words, keep your cell phone, safe! If you lose it, talk to your service provider immediately and see if there’s a way to remotely wipe your SIM card once you transfer the data (this might be a pipe dream — but it would be cool)

I’d love to hear some more thoughts from people that know more about SIM cards than I do.


1 thought on “How To Catch a Thief with a SIM Card and MySpace

  1. with Butler for the Treo, you can actually send yourself a text message ordering the software to wipe everything, or lock the phone, whichever you want.

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