A new Mobile Phone Theft report compiled by the Home Office has indicated that over 740,000 people were victims of phone theft over the last two years – with Apple handsets more likely to be stolen than any other phone.
In London alone, almost 100,000 mobile phones were reported stolen to the Metropolitan Police during the 12 months of 2013.
The report states that the iPhone 5, 5C, 5S and 4S were most targeted followed by the Blackberry 9790.
Apparently, 37% of mobile phone thefts took place on public transport or in another public place, with under a third taking place in bars, pubs and clubs. Surprisingly, nearly 20% of thefts occurred in places of work.
And as for those more likely to be the victim of mobile phone crime, the report suggests 4.7% of phone theft victims were women aged between 18-21, while 14-24 year olds are the targeted more than any other group – either stolen directly from their person, through pick-pocketing, or when the handset is briefly left unattended.
Interestingly, there is only a small difference between the numbers of thefts during the day and in the evening. Forty per cent of reported incidents were reported between 6am and 6pm, while 60% occurred between 6pm and 6am.
Despite the alarming numbers, the research suggests that the introduction of stronger security features in phones is likely to have reduced theft levels, and in recent years mobile phone manufacturers have been stepping up security measures to try and combat this trend.
Apple claim to be leading the industry in protecting people’s devices mainly due to the new finger print recognition system as part of the iOS7 operating system introduced with the release of the iPhone 5 in September 2013.
While Samsung have introduced the Find My Mobile and the Reactivation Lock.
But it’s not just the phones themselves that criminals are keen to get their hands on.
It’s no surprise that smartphones are much more desirable than older models due to the technology they can offer, but they also provide access to more personal content like bank details, which can also be exploited or sold on.
How to avoid your Smartphone being stolen – 5 tips
So what can be done to stop you being the next mobile phone crime statistic and how can you ensure you don’t give would-be criminals an easy ride?
In addition to the security functions introduced by the industry, there are some simple steps that mobile phone owners can take to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of mobile phone theft. Here are five of them.
1. Register your mobile
Register your mobile device for free at Immobilise.com. This will help the police to identify you as the owner if your phone is recovered and allows you to keep a record of your IMEI number, which you will need if your mobile is lost or stolen.
2. Use a PIN
It might seem like a pain, but using a security PIN might just deter someone from stealing your phone as it locks the device and means nobody else is able to access your information. But try to ensure your code is not easily guessed.
3. Don’t leave it unattended
Never leave your phone unattended in a public place, like in an unattended handbag. Keep your eye on your phone at bars, cafes, coffee-shops, restaurants or music venues – anywhere that criminals are likely to be active.
4. Install a tracker
If your device is stolen a tracker/security app could help trace your device and allow you to wipe personal data before it falls into the wrong hands. If you are unsure which app to install, seek advice from the manufacturer.
5. Report theft immediately
If your phone is stolen, the quicker it is reported, the quicker something can be done about it. Tell your network about the theft immediately and report it to the police, informing them if you have a tracker app installed. Ensure you have the IMEI number available for the police, which your network will provide for free, or you can type *#06# into your handset and make a note of the number should you require it at a later date.
– Over 740,000 people were victims of phone theft in the last two years
– 100,000 mobiles were stolen in London alone during 2013
– 37% of thefts took place on public transport
– Nearly 20% in places of work
– 4.7% phone theft victims were women 18-21
– Apple’s iPhone most desirable smartphone at around 55%
– Blackberry second with around 17% and Samsung 15%, Nokia 6%