Mobile Phone Crime Statistics in the UK

As more and more mobile devices continue to enter the world and become used by people for a variety of everyday needs, the stats on mobile theft and crime continue to become more important. We’ve put together a sheet of information about these statistics so that you can be informed on what may happen to you in the future.

Mobile Phone Stats

In the United Kingdom currently, there are roughly 45 million smartphone owners (that’s around 80% of the population). Among younger adults, smartphone ownership is virtually universal, measuring in the mid-to-high 90s. Among those over the age of 75, roughly sixty percent own mobile phones. Among children in their single digits, roughly 10 percent own a mobile device.

How Often Mobile Theft Occurs

In the United Kingdom, mobile phone theft in real terms is actually decreasing from year to year, but the number of phones being stolen continues to increase. Roughly two percent of all mobile phone users had their phone stolen last year, for a total of roughly 826,000 thefts. The rate of theft is increasing at roughly three percent per year, but the number of mobile phones being purchased and deployed in the UK is increasing at a much larger rate from year to year.

Types of Mobile Phone Theft

The vast majority of phone thefts occur in public spaces. Only about two percent of all mobile thefts occur in the workplace, with a comparable number occurring from within the home. Of all mobile phones stolen, roughly one-quarter of the thefts are never reported to the mobile network. Among all demographics, women between the ages of 18 and 24 are the statistically most likely to be victims of mobile theft.

The most common scenario for a phone to be stolen occurs whenever the phone falls out of the possession of the individual (classified as “other personal theft”). Unfortunately for owners, this type of mobile theft is not covered under mobile insurance plans.

Despite the relative rate of phone theft declining, the number of mobile-related thefts as a percentage of all personal thefts continues to increase. In just one year, the percentage of thefts related to mobile devices increased from roughly 30 percent to 45 percent, which is likely being fuelled by the sheer prevalence of mobile phones increasing from year to year.

For young adolescents, roughly 1 in 5 reported thefts are for mobile phones and devices.

Mobile Theft Profiles

Who is most likely to steal a mobile device? Roughly two-thirds of all mobile phone thefts are conducted by men, while around thirty percent are conducted by women. Across all incidents, roughly half of all mobile phone thefts are orchestrated by multiple individuals. Nearly 60 percent of all victims of mobile theft are in between the ages of 16 and 24 years of age. Three out of four mobile thefts were carried out on people by complete strangers, and 20 percent of all mobile thefts are conducted by a group consisting of four or more people.

Weekend thefts are the most common form of theft in terms of days, with daylight hours – afternoon and evening – being the prime time for thefts to occur. Most mobile thefts – roughly 85 percent – involve only the theft of the phone itself. Among mobile phone robberies that involve multiple items, the most common accessory to be stolen along with the phone is money.

Public transport is where mobile phones are most often stolen, as one-third of all thefts occur here. Theft from a motor vehicle makes up four percent of phone thefts, while roughly twenty percent of all mobile phone thefts occur either as the result of a direct robbery or household theft.

Check out our guide to insuring your mobile phone or gadgets.

Preventing Mobile Phone Theft

In order to minimise the likelihood of phone theft and in order to make its retrieval more likely, be sure to do the following:

  • Document all specific information about the phone. This includes the phone’s IMEI # (press *#06# in order to see this number), as well as basic phone details and any additional information (such as the phone’s PIN or security lock).
  • Keep the phone locked at all times. In this modern era of privacy concerns, your financial and personal information may be subject to violation if you often leave your phone unlocked. A locked phone will often discourage average thieves from taking the device.
  • Install a security app or piece of software on the phone. Mobile phones that can be disabled or accessed remotely will help law enforcement determine who took your phone. In addition, this can be used to track the phone’s geographic location.
  • Keep phones in your front pocket. It is much easier for a pickpocket to take a mobile device when it is in your back pocket or an open bag. By keeping it securely in your front pocket, it is less likely to fall out and less likely to be picked by thieves.

Mobile phone theft is a dangerous yet unavoidable reality in some circumstances. By being aware of who does it, who it most often happens to, where it occurs the most and how best to avoid the situation, you will be able to minimise the likelihood that you are a victim of such a crime.

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