Mobiles targeted by pickpockets

MOBILE phones have become the latest, easy-earn target for pickpockets in Ipswich.This week we focus on thefts from people in public places, and the crimes suggest the town is no different to the rest of England and Wales, where thefts of mobiles have surged.

By Tracey Sparling

MOBILE phones have become the latest, easy-earn target for pickpockets in Ipswich.

This week we focus on thefts from people in public places, and the crimes suggest the town is no different to the rest of England and Wales, where thefts of mobiles have surged.

New research suggests that more than 700,000 were snatched across the country last year.


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The study published by the Home Office estimates the overall number of stolen mobiles is more than double the 330,000 figure officially recorded by police.

Schoolchildren – often targeted by other youths – are at least five times more likely to be targeted by mobile phone thieves than adults, with 48 per cent of victims aged under 18.

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With a mobile phone being snatched approximately every three minutes, Minister John Denham, launched a mobile phone crime prevention initiative this spring.

He said: "I am aware that this year mobile phones were one of the top items on many kids' Christmas lists and a lot of children will be tempted to bring their new phones to school.

"I want to make sure that these children don't become the latest victims in a disturbing new robbery trend."

Not only are national robbery rates up 13pc, but the proportion of those involving mobiles has soared from 8pc three years ago to 28pc last year, according to the survey.

The total number of phone robberies is thought to have risen almost threefold in five years, but mobile phone ownership is also rising rapidly.

Chairman of the Youth Justice Board Lord Warner, said the figures indicated an "extremely worrying phenomenon" of large numbers of young people committing crimes on their peers.

He said both parents and schools needed to question the wisdom of allowing pupils take such valuable items to school.

The government wants to see initiatives from mobile phone companies, and with them and the police, is studying the feasibility of piloting text-bombing of stolen handsets, successfully used in Holland.

In Amsterdam, the police force has found a new weapon against the rising theft of mobile telephones – text message 'bombs.' After a user reports his handset stolen, the police start sending out a text message to the phone every three minutes saying: "This handset was nicked, buying or selling is a crime. The police."

A spokeswoman for Suffolk Police said people could take a few simple steps to reduce the risk of theft:

Always use your phone's security lock code and PIN number.

Security mark the battery and phone with your postcode and street number or the first two letters of your house name.

Register your phone with the operator. If you report your phone stolen, the operator should then be able to bar the SIM card.

When using your phone, remain aware of your surroundings and do not use it in crowded areas or where you feel unsafe.

But street crime is not just confined to phones – bags and purses remain perennial targets for thieves.

The advice is:

Don't carry keys in a handbag, but put them in your pocket instead.

Expensive jewellery should be covered up.

Handbags should be carried with the clasp facing inwards.

If walking around on your own, try not to overload yourself with packages.

If you are carrying a large sum of money, divide it up by putting it in your pockets or other parts of your clothing and some in a hand bag.

Put cheque cards and books in separate places.

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