Nearly half a million Brits had a mobile phone stolen in the last year

13 Mar, 2017

Official crime data reveals that, on average, 1,220 mobile phones are stolen every day in the UK, but better security systems are having a huge impact on mobile phone theft with the numbers stolen at their lowest level for 10 years.

Analysis of the latest crime data, commissioned by mobile insurer Protect Your Bubble, shows that around 1% of mobile phone owners had a handset stolen in the year from April 2015 to March 2016. But as 94% of people over 16 have a mobile that still means that 446,000 phones were stolen.

The data from the Crime Survey for England and Wales reveals the rates of theft are twice as high for younger people as the general population. 2% of 22-24 year olds have had their mobile stolen and 2.4% aged 18-21. Women in this age group are the most vulnerable to mobile phone theft.

The favourite methods of the thieves are pickpocketing and snatch theft, where a phone is grabbed from the victim’s hand. More than 40% of phones are stolen this way compared to just 5% that are taken during a mugging.

But just over a third (35%) of stolen mobiles go missing when they are left out and unattended. Figures show this happens on public transport and other public places more often than it does in bars and clubs. And 15% of such thefts happen at work.

The theft of mobiles peaked at 897,000 in April 2008 to March 2009, according to the data in the Crime Survey of England and Wales, which is used by the government to track trends in crime.

The numbers declined sharply the following year and once again fell substantially between 2013 and early 2015. They are now at 50% of the peak in 2008.

Research for the Home Office1 suggests the reductions are linked to the introduction of better manufacturer security systems. It says the introduction of better security since late 2013 by the likes of Apple and Samsung had an impact on the black market value of phones, which made them less attractive to thieves.

Many people do little to protect themselves. Just over half (53%) the owners surveyed use a PIN code and around a fifth (21%) use apps to track their phone if it is lost or stolen. Nearly a third (31%) of people take out mobile phone insurance, but nearly the same proportion (32%) takes no security measures at all.