Mayor challenges phone manufacturers to help tackle smartphone theft

09 July 2013

The Mayor of London today called on the mobile phone industry to help deliver a cost effective technical solution to tackle the blight of phone robberies in the capital.

Whilst London has continued to get safer with overall crime falling by 7 per cent in 2012/13, there has been a troubling increase in the number of incidences of theft from person offences, which in the last year rose by 12 per cent. This rise has been largely driven by mobile phone theft, which accounts for 75 per cent of this offence. Around 10,000 handsets are stolen every month in the capital.

Smartphone theft is a problem that not only impacts London but is a shared concern for police and city governments across the UK and in major world cities including New York, Washington and Amsterdam. Mobile phone theft will be one of the issues under discussion at the first international policing conference convened by the Mayor at City Hall this week, attended by mayors, police chiefs and delegates from 15 major cities from around the world. It is considered that one of the major drivers for the growth of phone robbery is the large cross-border black market in stolen devices involving criminal gangs, who often exploit the poor safeguards for identifying stolen devices and the ease of selling handsets overseas.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: ‘Smartphone theft is a growing menace not just in London, but throughout cities in the UK and across the developed world. The police and criminal justice agencies cannot tackle this by themselves - we need manufacturers to play their part and work with us to help devise solutions to deter theft and help prevent this crime.’

The Mayor, Deputy Metropolitan Commissioner Craig Mackey and leaders of the London Crime Reduction Board (LCRB), which has the responsibility for public safety in the capital, have today (8 July) written to all the major UK mobile phone manufacturers and suppliers to express their 'deep concern ' about the rise in person smartphone thefts and asking them to take the problem more seriously. The LCRB believe that smartphone theft needs to be addressed in the same way that the motor industry devised solutions to design out car crime using immobilisers and enhanced security in the Nineties.

The first international conference for city leaders and senior police officers, Policing Global Cites, will take place on 8-9 July at City Hall. Representatives from a range of global cities across six continents will be sharing experiences on how best to address the policing challenges that major cities encounter. Topics that the two-day event will explore include:

Alongside UK delegates, the event will be attended by almost 30 international police and civic leaders from 15 cities including Los Angeles, Mumbai, Cape Town, Washington DC, Toronto, Rotterdam, Barcelona, Melbourne, Singapore and Bangkok.

Key international speakers at the conference will include Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, City of Melbourne; Chief Detective Superintendent Harald Pickert, Head of the Crime Fighting Unit, Munich Police; Ahmed Aboutaleb, Mayor of Rotterdam; Cathy Lanier, Chief of Police in Washington DC; William Blair, Chief of the Toronto Police and Dr Satya Pal Singh, Commissioner, Mumbai.


Notes to editors

  • The pressures and challenges that cities face when they become a key international destination and a focus for major world events
  • How policing needs to adapt to social change, the growth of cities and keep pace with technological innovation and new crime threats
  • How cities from across the globe can work together to tackle organised crime across borders
  • For a full list of speakers and more information on the topics go to
  • The Policing Global Cities Conference has been organised by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) and sponsored by KPMG, BT, Cisco and Accenture and will be opened by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson and the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe.
  • The signatories of the London Crime Reduction Board ( LCRB) are- Boris Johnson, Mayor of London; Craig Mackey, Deputy Commissioner Metropolitan Police Service; Jules Pipe, Mayor for Hackney & Chair of London Councils; Alison Saunders CB, Chief Crown Prosecutor for London; Sara Robinson and Assistant Chief Officer, London Probation .
  • The LCRB letter was send to the following manufacturers- Apple Inc, blackberry, Samsung, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Google- Motorola, HTC and Microsoft. For a copy please email [email protected].