Amsterdam police announced today that it has found a new weapon against the rising theft of mobile telephones: text message bombs.

After a mobile phone is reported stolen, the police start sending out one text message to the phone every three minutes, saying: "This handset was nicked, buying or selling is a crime. The police."

"We hope this will make mobile phones unattractive loot," said Elly Florax, head of communications for the Amsterdam-Amstelland police force.

The deluge of messages is sent out using a computer system that was especially designed for the police. Florax welcomed the idea of other police forces trying it the system.

UK law enforcement agencies and the government are looking for ways to combat rising mobile phone crime, and could probably do with having a swift word with the Dutch police.

Concern in Britain follows reports from the police revealing street crimes involving mobile phones had increased 400 percent between 1999 and 2000.

Government figures show mobile phones made up 12 percent of stolen property from 1999-2000.

“There are things that can be done through the better use of PINs (personal identification numbers) and the better use of serial numbers. We also want to get a technology group going,” said Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, when the government moved to sort the problem out recently. Sounds like Straw's been on the phone to the Netherlands after all.