Where to go to have your mobile phone stolen...

by Guy J Kewney | posted on 30 October 2008

Famously, Barcelona is a dangerous place for mobiles - but London may be up there, according to new research. It's even more likely you'd get your phone pinched in London than in New York. Why?

The figures, sponsored by Carphone Warehouse and produced by the London School of Economics researchers, suggest that 15% of British adults "have had their phones stolen." The equivalent for US adults is 7% only.

And 10,000 mobile phones are stolen each month in the UK.

According to the Mobile Life Report, it's quite probably because Londoners have nicer phones. But it's also because London is rougher than New York: 

The Mobile Life report found that mobile phone theft is a particular problem in London. 25% of those living in London have had a mobile phone stolen, compared to the lower national average of 15%. In fact, people are nearly twice as likely to be a victim of some kind of robbery in London, than in New York City. In 2007, there were three robberies per 1,000 people in the London Metropolitan area, compared to 1.61 robberies per 1,000 people in New York.

But is it true about the nicer phones? Quite possibly:

"The report found that, in London, 36% of adults preferred a mobile phone with the latest specifications such as MP3, camera and video player, in comparison to 17% of adults in New York.".

The tendency to carry these higher value phones, observes the Mobile Life report, "could perhaps go some way towards explaining the higher mobile theft rates in London."

The rest of the explanation has to do with crime rates. Yes, official statistics (from the Home Office this week) show that overall crime has fallen, but not for phone owners. Those are up.

So what should we do about it? According to CPW itself (unsurprisingly) we should turn to CPW for the solutions; take out a CPW phone insurance policy, sign up to Immobilise, and buy the latest special deal from CPW, a Samsung phone. Specifically,

"The Samsung J700 handset includes SOS messaging enabling a warning message to be sent at the touch of a button if a thief approaches, and a mobile tracker service allowing calls to be traced if a handset is stolen."

Also, open the phone up when you get it, and write down its IMEI number and the SIM card number. Oh, and yeah, Immobilse isn't a CPW outfit... sorry!

What NewsWireless would like to know is: who is buying all these stolen phones?

If they're  being stolen to order for shipment overseas (which was the traditional reason for targeting UK phones, which are heavily subsidised) then the crucial strategy has to be to track down the gangs who export them. Alternatively, if they're used to flog down the pub in exchange for enough cash for another crack fix, then the drugs laws need attention.

If they're being stolen by kids who just want a new phone themselves, however, then it's up to the mobile phone companies and operators to ensure that stolen phones can be disabled. Many people have suggested this, but somehow, it never happens...

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