UK handset theft up by 25pc since 2010


London and Cardiff account for the highest rate of phone thefts in the past 24 months – with just one per cent being returned to owners

Mobile phone theft has risen 25 percent since 2010 according to insurance firm Liverpool Victoria (LV=).

In 2010 there were 6,239 on average per month, in 2011 there were 7,513 per month and in 2012 there were 7,779 per month.

In the first eight months of this year, 264 mobile thefts were reported to police, a seven per cent increase compared with 2011.

Police have recovered just one per cent of those stolen since 2010. UK mobile theft hotspots include Hyde Park in London, where 163 thefts were reported between may and August, and Greyfriars Road in Cardiff where 125 thefts have been reported so far this year.

According to LV= the problem is being exacerbated by the ease with which handsets can be sold on. The average smartphone now has a black-market value of £400, when downloaded content and paid-for apps are taken into consideration.

Stolen mobiles are usually sold on to recycling companies, through online auction sites or exported for sale in Africa, Asia and Europe.

The stolen phones are also bought by hackers for personal information, such as bank details, stored on them.

LV= managing director John O’Roarke said: “We have seen a real shift in theft claims over the past decade with thieves preferring to target small, easily portable items such as mobile phones and gadgets.

“The latest smartphones are worth hundreds of pounds on the black market and can be easily sold on, making them particularly attractive to opportunistic thieves.”