Met to launch probe into export of stolen handsets

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National Mobile Phone Crime Unit to begin looking into issue next month as it seeks to clarify ‘low-level’ information it has received

The Metropolitan Police’s mobile phone crime unit is to launch an investigation into the exporting of stolen mobiles abroad.

The National Mobile Phone Crime Unit will begin its probe in mid-May, after completing an internal review of crime data.

Detective inspector Mark Loving said the unit will seek to clarify “low-level” information it has received regarding the channelling of stolen goods by small gangs.

Research by insurance firm Liverpool Victoria (LV=) found mobile phone theft rose 25 per cent between 2010 and 2012, from 6,239 incidents on average per month to 7,779 per month.

The firm found just one per cent of phones stolen since 2010 have been recovered and that the problem is being exacerbated by the ease with which handsets can be sold on. Stolen mobiles are usually sold on to recycling companies through online auction sites or exported for sale in Africa, Asia and Europe.

Loving said: “With all these new phones stolen across London, there must be a pyramid, where they are channelled abroad because obviously they are blocked on the UK network.

“This is done by small crime rings which sometimes work together and sometimes as individuals. We don’t have a definition yet [of the typical exporter]. We have low-level information at the moment, which we will seek to clarify.

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