Peru’s government will impose harsh penalties for those who steal a cellphone, including life in prison if a robber kills someone while stealing their mobile device.
The changes to the country’s penal code, approved recently in Congress, went into effect Thursday.
Peru’s penal code did not include prison time for stealing cellphones, but authorities say they decided to revisit the law after they saw an increasing rate of theft of mobile devices throughout the country.
During the first nine months of 2023, about 1.2 million cellphones were reported stolen in Peru, according to the country’s telecommunication authority. That is more than 4,000 devices a day.
The new penalties will send “a clear warning to all those who steal cellphones,” Interior Minister Vicente Romero said.
At least 11 other crimes are punished with life in prison in Peru, including femicides, kidnapping of young children and sexual exploitation of minors.
The new penal code establishes that stealing a cellphone will carry an initial penalty of 12 years in prison and can go up to 30 years if the person uses a weapon or explosives during the theft.