Cell companies to help tackle ‘the menace of mobile phone crime’ in London

London students are found to be the most likely to have their phones stolen in the UK

Leading phone companies Apple, Samsung, Google, Nokia, and Motorola and major mobile network providers have been enlisted to help tackle London’s mass phone theft issue.

At a recent meeting with the Mayor of London and bosses of the Metropolitan Police, the companies were asked to make re-selling stolen phones more difficult by changing how their phones are designed.

The meeting comes after initiatives by Met Police to increase awareness among students about new methods of phone theft. It also comes as London students are found by recent research to be the most likely to have their phones stolen in the UK, with over 5,000 students falling victim to phone theft in 2022.

According to data from the Met Police, a mobile phone was stolen every five minutes in London last year, amounting to 157 phone thefts per day. There has also been a 28 per cent rise in mobile robberies and 22 per cent in phone thefts in the past 12 months.

Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley spoke about the lack of security measures in the phones’ designs as one of the reasons behind these crimes.

He said: “Current mobile phone operating systems make it far too easy for criminals to steal devices, re-register them, and sell them on. This fuels a highly lucrative and profitable criminal market across the capital, and is central to the rise in thefts, robbery and violent offending we’ve seen over the last two years.

“Just this weekend we made multiple arrests and seized more than 70 stolen phones at a shop selling them onwards.

“But until we design out the ability for phones to be used in the way they currently are, we will be stuck in a vicious circle. Key mobile phone players have a huge part to play in crushing this criminal market, and this meeting is a really important step forward, but we have to move quickly.”

The recent introduction of measures such as fingerprint and facial recognition software has reportedly had little impact in deterring criminals.

New measures proposed this week include heightened location tracking, demands to make phones less easily broken to be sold in parts and a crackdown on the re-registration of stolen devices for services provided by major networks. The use of cards and bank payments made via phones was also identified as a serious issue.

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, said: “This meeting is an important milestone to developing a practical and longterm solution to ending the menace of mobile phone crime which we know is driving violence and criminality into our communities – not just in London but across the UK”.

The Met Police offers the following advice on keeping your phone safe:

Be vigilant when outside.

Try not to appear distracted as this makes you a likely target.

Take measures when walking to prevent being the target of thieves on bikes and scooters.

Refrain from having your phone on show- only have it out when necessary.

Try not to walk in isolated areas.

If stolen, ensure your phone is blocked by calling your network service immediately.

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