Protect your phone from this growing threat

Updated on 24 February 2012 | 12 Comments

Robert Powell reports on the growing threat of 'phone snatching' and finds out what you can do to protect your handset...


The booming mobile phone industry isn’t just good news for high-tech firms such as Apple and Samsung. Thieves are also cashing in on the propensity many of us now have to fill our pockets and handbags with expensive gadgets.

The Metropolitan Police estimates that 10,000 mobile phones are stolen every month. This figure is fuelled in part by an increase in ‘phone snatching’, where a handset is snatched by a thief on a bike or moped. One North London borough has seen a 400% in this type of crime in just one year.

Take a look at the video above for a reconstruction of this new type of crime.

Protecting yourself

In response to this burgeoning threat, The National Mobile Phone Crime Unit (NMPCU) was launched in 2003 to, among other things, gather intelligence on handset thieves and provide expert advice on preventing mobile phone crime.

DCI Robert Mahoney, head of the unit said: “A lot of [mobile phone] crime is very opportunistic. So owners of phones really need to reduce the opportunities for thieves: put it in your pocket, don’t leave it on view or in your handbag or jacket pocket – particularly if you go to the pub or shops.”

He said busy transport hubs, such as train, bus or tube stations, are sometimes targeted by thieves.

“The first thing people do as soon as they get off a train or off a tube is get their phone out to check for messages. Be mindful of who’s around you when you’re doing that,” he said.

DCI Mahoney also said that registering your phone at – a national database of personal property – can help the police and second-hand trade identify stolen gadgets and assist in any insurance claim you may make for a new handset.

Mobile phone insurance

There are two main ways of insuring a mobile phone: either through your home contents cover or by using a specialist insurer. Using your home insurance can sometimes be cheaper, but any claims will push up premiums and affect no-claims discounts.

Another downside is that contents insurance does not cover unauthorised phone calls made from your handset.

Take a look at this article for a full breakdown of the prices and features of various mobile phone insurance policies.

Making a claim

Whether you decide to insure your handset through your home insurance or use a separate policy, there are still a few things you should always do to ensure a successful claim.

Matt Reid, UK Director of gadget insurer, said: “Make sure you’ve reported your phone lost to both your network operator and also to the police. It’s important you do that quite quickly. We set a time limit of between 12 and 24 hours.”

Mr Reid said not reporting your phone lost in time, along with not following other terms and conditions in the policy, were the key reasons why they refused to pay out on some claims.

More: Get the best deal on iPhone 4S, Samsung Galaxy SII, Blackberry Bold, Nokia Lumia and HTC Explorer | The Full Monty from T-Mobile - phone tariff that gives you unlimited texts, calls and data

Thanks for Basil Kronfli from for the interview.


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