Mobile Phone Robbery: A Growing Menace

Victoria Harrington, Home Office, London

ABSTRACT
As a small, potentially valuable item, high on 'image' for the young in particular, it was probably inevitable that mobile phones would become an attractive target for theft. Nonetheless, an awareness of the problem of mobile phone theft is relatively recent and there has been little research to date. Perhaps more surprising still is that currently no consolidated figures exist on the extent of the problem.

This paper will outline some of the results from recent Home Office research. This estimates that more than 700,000 mobile phone thefts occurred in England and Wales over the last year and that the risks for young people are far greater than for adults. Although in quantitative terms more phones are targeted in offences other than robbery a higher proportion of robberies tend to involve the theft of a phone. Moreover, while only a small proportion of robberies involved the theft of a phone in 1998/99, two years later this had a risen to more than a quarter. The greater growth in phone robberies which involve the theft of only a phone will also be discussed. Does this suggest that phone robbery has had a part to play in the recent upward robbery trend in England and Wales?

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Updated 05/20/2006