The new figures, reported on by the Evening Standard, show that 9,751 handsets were stolen last month as part of personal theft or robbery incidents. The latest annual statistics show that the number of robbery and theft offences overall in London is on the rise – up from 16,084 offences in December 2011 to 17,583 in December 2012. Mobile phones, however, are by far the most commonly stolen item.
On average, seven out of ten items taken in personal robberies throughout London are a mobile phone. Of those, roughly 50 percent are thought to be an iPhone.
It’s not surprising, given the demand for Apple’s premium smartphone and it’s comparatively high market value. Between the months of April and September last year, the Metropolitan Police say that 28,800 iPhones alone were reported to have been stolen in the city. The total number of mobile phones stolen, just for comparison, is 56,680, equating to 157 handsets each day. Of these, 79 are therefore iPhones.
One such victim is Rebekah Campbel, a 26-year-old school teacher from Brixton, South London. Her iPhone was taken last November.
“I was waiting for a friend and holding my iPhone in my hand as I thought she may call me to let me know she was on her way. I then popped it into my jacket pocket after a few minutes. There were lots of people around at that time but I did notice there were two men right behind me.
Shortly after, the taller of the two men came up to me and tried to hug me. I pushed him away telling him I didn’t need one and thought that was that. I met my friend a few minutes later and it was then I realised my phone had been taken. I’m sure that the second of the two men had picked it from my pocket as the other one hugged me.”
Every city has its share of pickpockets and thieves. However, many of us are still prone to keeping our smartphone in a back pocket every now and then, so it’s figures like these that help us to remember to keep an eye on them.
So who’s most likely to have their iPhone stolen? Well, the statistics show that men are more likely to be victims of robbery, whereas women are more prone to theft. The common profile for all victims, however, is a young professional aged between 20 and 30, out in the city at an “entertainment spot” or other public place.
To coincide with the announcement, Scotland Yard has launched an advertising campaign in the city to help people keep their belongings, including mobile phones, safe.
The tips offered by the Metropolitan Police for avoiding mobile phone theft aren’t surprising, but should be heeded all the same:
Ensure it’s harder for thieves to get at your phone by making a habit of keeping it in a secure or zipped pocket.
If you are getting out your phone out in the street, don’t attract attention to it – try to avoid texting/checking it as you are walking along and be especially alert when taking it out as you emerge from public transport hubs – these are often hotspots.
Keeping both hands on the phone and holding it on the side of your body away from the street can make it harder from thieves on pedal or motorbikes to snatch it from you.
Never leave your phone unattended in a public place and don’t leave it lying in front of you on a table as you could become prey to distraction theft. A lot of thefts occur in pubs, restaurants or concerts where the phone is left in handbags or unattended jackets.
Don’t leave your phone in an unattended car – if you must, lock it out of sight. It only takes seconds for a thief to smash a window and steal it.