TikTok phone burglar spared prison time over £18,000 raid at London HQ

Robert Smith pictured outside court (ES)
Robert Smith pictured outside court (ES)

A prolific burglar who snuck into TikTok’s headquarters in London and stole mobile phones worth more than £18,000 has been spared jail.

Robert Smith, 38, spent more than an hour walking around the social media giant’s London offices at 180 The Strand in a raid on July 22, 2021.

He had “tailgated” a TikTok employee to sneak past the security gates, and found phone handsets to steal from a store room.

Southwark crown court heard he stole 54 handsets worth £18,585.

CCTV footage, viewed after the theft of the phone handsets was discovered, showed Smith walking around the office, blending in and apparently posing as a genuine employee.

Only one of the stolen phones has been recovered.

Smith pleaded guilty to a charge of theft, and was sentenced to 22 months in prison, suspended for 22 months.

Smith has convictions for 24 previous burglaries on his record.

“On July 22 2021 at TikTok headquarters in London, Mr Smith stole 54 phones in total, worth over £18,500,” said prosecutor Lynn Fanshawe.

“This is seriously aggravated by what appears to be a career of burglary.”

Defence barrister, Joe Hingston, told the court Smith, from Bermondsey in southeast London, is the primary carer for his two children.

Judge Lock agreed to suspend the prison sentence after hearing about Smith’s pivotal role in his family. His offending had been fuelled by a past drug habit, the court heard.