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Cops launch phone theft crackdown campaign
5:00pm Sunday 28th October 2012 in News
POLICE have launched a major phone theft awareness campaign as latest figures show almost 500 Apple iPhones and BlackBerry devices are stolen across the region every month.
West Midlands Police kicked off Operation Network on Thursday (October 25) which saw officers taking displays and crime prevention messages to shopping centres including Merry Hill to spread the word about protecting property.
Although robbery is down across the region by almost a third with almost 1,400 fewer victims since April compared to the same period in 2011, the number of pick-pocket and 'sweeping' style offences with thieves cruising pubs and clubs for unattended valuables is on the rise.
Detective Chief Inspector Andy Parsons, who is heading up Operation Network, said: "Since April, we've seen an average of 275 iPhones and 211 BlackBerrys stolen every month that amounts to almost 75 per cent of all phone theft reports.”
He added: “There will be an increase in mobile phone purchases throughout the festive period and particularly with the new iPhone launch. Being blase about personal security could be a costly mistake as there are opportunists looking out for easy targets.”
As part of Operation Network cops went armed with an internet-enabled laptop to quickly register the phones of Merry Hill shoppers on the national database Immobilise.com which helps police reunite owners with lost or stolen items should they be recovered.
Mobile phone owners are also advised to keep their expensive devices safe in their pockets when out and about and never to leave them unattended on a table, even if just nipping to collect a drink from the bar or going to the toilet.
And Detective Constable Kim Savage, from the Operation Network team, is urging people to install tracker apps on their handsets.
She said: "We've had some great arrests thanks to tracker apps with suspects finding themselves in a police cell and victims reunited with handsets within minutes of phones being stolen.
"Two teens were recently jailed for three years, with a third getting an 18-month sentence, for robbing a lad of his iPhone 4 on a bus in Aston.
“Sensibly, he'd installed the tracker app and once activated the signal directed police to the city centre where they found the offenders with the phone on another bus.
"Without guidance from the tracker app police would likely have focused their search in Aston around the offence location. In my view everyone with an iPhone or iPad should download this app."
West Midlands Police has created a new webpage dedicated to mobile phone security advice. Visit http://www.west-midlands.police.uk/phones