Britain's mobile phone theft hotspots revealed

Sarah Coles
A pickpocket.
A pickpocket.

London, Leeds and Manchester have been named as Britain's mobile phone theft hotspots by a new report. Meanwhile, the researchers discovered that a third of people in the UK have had a mobile phone stolen at some point. It goes to show how important it is to take precautions.

Research from Protect Your Bubble assessed mobile phone theft claims in the 30 largest towns and cities in the UK in the first half of this year, and discovered that some cities are far more dangerous than others. Some 16% of all claims from London are for theft, while 14% of all Leeds claims are because of stolen phones and 12% of those from Manchester.

The top ten

This contrasts with areas down the bottom of the table, like Northampton, where just 3% of all claims are for theft, Southampton where 3.4% are and Hull where 3.5% are.

The bottom ten
Milton Keynes

The good news is that in the hotspots, the numbers of thefts are declining. Thefts in London and Leeds are down by almost a third from the same period last year, and those in Manchester are down a quarter. Across all 30 towns and cities thefts have fallen 28%. However, there are some exceptions to the rule. The research named Plymouth and Preston as cause for concern, where the percentage of thefts had more than doubled.

Of course, this only refers to the company's experience of claims, so it doesn't reflect everyone's experiences in these areas. You should still be OK to carry a mobile phone in London without it immediately being snatched from your grasp - assuming you take sensible precautions.

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Former Criminal Helps Front Pickpocketing Awareness Campaign
Former Criminal Helps Front Pickpocketing Awareness Campaign

The worrying news is that the insurer also asked people what they would do if someone tried to steal their phone. Some 53% of men and 41% of women said they would put up a fight. Those in their 40s would be most likely to hang onto their phone, followed by those in their 50s, and those under the age of 20.

This is particularly alarming because when faced with a mugger, it can be difficult to tell how they are affected by outside influences such as drugs or alcohol. It's also impossible to tell if they are armed. In many cases, while it may seem like a good idea to stand your ground, it could prove highly dangerous.

Stephen Ebbett, global director of Protect Your Bubble, said it was a sensible idea to "make it as difficult as possible for your mobiles and tablets to be stolen". However, this means making them less vulnerable rather than hanging on for dear life. He added: "Don't leave them unattended, and carry them in a zipped up bag rather than a pocket, for example."

It's also worth avoiding using them in areas where thieves target - such as directly outside tube stations in London. And while it can be very handy to pull out your phone for its maps when you're lost, it's important to check your environment first. It may not be wise to appear to obviously lost and vulnerable while standing with a smartphone in your hand.

If you do have your phone stolen, locking the keypad will provide a level of protection - at least until you can reach phone to call your provider and have it blocked. You will also need to call the police for a crime reference number you can pass to your insurer (either a stand-alone insurer, or your home insurer if you have cover for items taken out of the home).

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