News story

Mobile phone theft paper highlights models targeted by thieves

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Research published by Home Secretary Theresa May also sets out practical steps to protect mobile phones from being stolen.

Home Secretary Theresa May has today published a paper including a Mobile Phone Theft Ratio that shows which handsets may be most likely to be targeted by thieves. The paper, produced with the Behavioural Insights Team and in consultation the mobile phone industry, also sets out practical steps on how the public can protect their mobile phones from being stolen.

The Mobile Phone Theft Ratio – based on data for the period August 2012 to January 2014 - is topped by the Apple iPhone models 5, 5C, 5S and 4S, followed by the Blackberry 9790 in fifth place. Samsung Galaxy and HTC phones also feature on the index.

The likelihood of a phone being targeted by thieves is driven by a number of factors, including the overall desirability of the phone itself, the ease of access to valuable personal data stored on it, and the perceived risk of the phone being tracked once it has been stolen.

Home Secretary Theresa May said:

Crime has fallen by more than 10% under this government. This is good news for a safer England and Wales.

However, the level of mobile phone theft remains a concern and people are increasingly carrying their lives in their pockets, with bank details, emails and other sensitive personal information easily accessible through mobile phones. This is why it is vital that government, police and industry work together to tackle this crime.

The Mobile Phone Theft Ratio will inform consumers about which mobile phones are most targeted by thieves. We are also working with industry to stop the reactivation of phones overseas, thereby killing the export market on which organised criminals rely.

The mobile phone industry is already taking vital action to introduce features that enable phones to be tracked and wiped if they are stolen. It is encouraging to see that these security improvements have contributed to recorded theft from the person falling by 10% in the last year, according to the most recent crime statistics.

The paper highlights the success of new features, such as the new iOS7 operating system developed by Apple, and the Find My Mobile and Reactivation Lock features introduced by Samsung. Intelligence from the Metropolitan Police Service suggests that the iOS7 system has already affected the black market value of stolen phones.

The paper shows that people are most likely to have their phones stolen directly from their person (through pick-pocketing) or when the handset is briefly left unattended, for example at a table in a bar. The data also show that certain groups are especially vulnerable: 14-24 year olds, and particularly women, are more likely than any other group to be victims of mobile phone theft.