An immobiliser chip promises to block stolen mobile phones, according to its developer, Xilinx.
On being reported stolen, the company's CoolRunner-II chip can be sent data to block the phone's keypad, Xilinx said, much like a car immobiliser.
"Basically [it] makes the handset unusable," explained Dave Nicklin, European market development manager for Xilinx.
"Even if the thief changes the SIM card, the reconfigured chip continues to prevent use of the keypad."
Xilinx is hoping to interest handset manufacturers in incorporating the chip in future products, arguing that it consumes little power.
Last month, researchers at the University of California, San Diego developed a porous chip that could self-destruct and render the phone useless.
Mobile theft has increased in the UK by 190 per cent since 1995 and accounts for 28 per cent of all reported robberies, according to Home Office figures.
Just this week, the UK's most senior judge, Lord Woolf, the Lord Chief Justice, said that mobile muggers would face up to five years in jail.
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