Police leading day of action to decrease mobile phone crime

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Co-ordinated day of action in partnership with UK police forces, 13 European countries through EuroPol and a number of law enforcement agencies

The Metropolitan Police Service has launched a mass European day of action in London focusing on mobile phone crime, theft and the second hand stolen goods market.

Initiated by the MPS through Operation Ringtone, which launched in February 2013 in partnership with the National Mobile Phone Crime Unit (NMPCU) targeting theft hotspots in London with increased patrols, information about identified criminals and the volume of mobile phone crime has been shared between eight UK police forces and with EuroPol.

UK police forces involved are Greater Manchester Police, West Midlands, South Wales, Merseyside, Nottingham, Northumbria, Kent and Essex.

The day of action is being co-ordinated under Operation Big Wing in partnership with UK police forces, 13 European countries through EuroPol and a number of law enforcement agencies.

They are taking part in engagement activities including border force operations, joint patrolling, automatic number plate recognition operations, processing Foreign National Offenders and undercover licensing operations.

Tackling these issues will be officers including the National Mobile Phone Crime Unit (NMPCU), Safer Transport Command, the Met’s Special Constabulary, Volunteer Police Cadets and other specialist partners including the British Transport Police, City of London Police and the National Crime Agency.

The European countries of Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland are also taking part in today’s activities.

The MPS said this was part of an ongoing drive to reduce crime in London and target mobile phone organised criminal networks that frequently change their operational base to avoid capture or detection by police in any part of the UK or European country.

It added that with shared intelligence now across UK police forces and European countries, police are working towards tacking the issues in a new joined up approach.

The MPS will also be signing up second hand commercial shops to its ‘safe seller’ scheme, which involves a voluntary agreement from the owner to restrict the sale of stolen property. Retailers obtain access to a property database to enable them to check if an item is stolen or not prior to a sale occurring.

The agreement also permits the police to examine stock to ensure second hand shops and stalls don’t purchase stolen property resulting in customers having increased confidence in their purchases. Officers are visiting accredited safe sellers to check on their progress while trying to sign up new ones. The Met currently has in excess of 1,000 retailers across London signed up.

In the past year, there has been a 13.4 per cent reduction in mobile phone theft in London, down from 35,151 reported offences to 30,430. Theft from a person is down 12.2 per cent from 49,304 reported offences to 43,265 while robbery of a mobile phone is down 23.1 per cent from 17,839 reported offences to 13,724.

Commander Stephen Watson, leading the operation, said: “These efforts should stand as a clear warning to mobile phone criminals that we are narrowing in on criminal activity and the organised networks they may operate in, who will soon have no place to hide within this country or Europe. We are tracking and understanding how their illegal practices operate with a view to putting them behind bars and reducing this large scale volume crime.

“The MPS and our partners are committed to driving down crime and what generates it in London and further afield. Work continues day in and day out alongside our partners to target those responsible but highly visible operations such as Operation Big Wing play a major part in the fight against crime.”

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