Phones disguised as key fobs smuggled into Mountjoy
Prisoners in Mountjoy Prison have been trying to beat new security checks by asking visitors to smuggle in miniature mobile phones designed to look like fobs that electronically open car doors.
The key-fob phones are the same size and weight as conventional fobs and have been produced complete with the trademark logos of major vehicle manufacturers. On one side they look like regular fobs containing buttons to lock or unlock car doors or boots.
However, the opposite side contains a miniature keyboard found on push-button mobile phones. The fobs function as phones, with SIM cards and batteries designed to fit.
In recent years airport-style X-ray scanning and searching has been introduced at prison entrances for visitors.Visitors carrying the fob phones have surrendered all metal and electronic items for scanning in the hope they would not be identified as phones.
If undetected, the fob phones are passed over tables to prisoners during visits.
Prison officers have in recent months found a number of phone fobs in prisoners’ cells. Vigilance has been stepped up and a number of visitors have been caught trying to smuggle the devices.
The phones are mass-produced as novelty items and can be bought in specialist shops or on the internet. They are not illegal. It is not clear how many fob phones have been smuggled into the prison.
Figures obtained by The Irish Times show new measures in Mountjoy aimed are reducing the flow of contraband into the prison appear to be working. The measures include the airport-style security searches, sniffer dogs to check visitors for drugs and nets being placed over exercise yards aimed at preventing contraband being thrown over the walls.
In 2012 there were 212 drug seizures in Mountjoy Prison, compared with 547 in 2009. The number of mobile phone seizures dropped to 330 from 904 in the same period.
Prison officers say the fob phones are charged using phone chargers smuggled into the prison separately.
Some of the chargers have had their plugs removed to make them easier to smuggle, sometimes concealed in visitors’ bodies.