Smart Phone Theft

MQT on 2015-02-23
Session date: 
February 23, 2015
Question By: 
Steve O'Connell
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


The Home Office recently noted in their report, "Reducing Mobile Phone Theft and Improving Security" that almost 100,000 mobile thefts took place in London in the year 2012/13. In the period between 1 August 2012 and 5 January 2014, over 50% of all phones stolen in London were Apple iPhones. What steps are you and the Metropolitan Police Service taking to tackle this crime, which remains prevalent?


Answer for Smart Phone Theft

Answer for Smart Phone Theft

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Tackling the theft and robbery of mobile phones remains a priority, but it is much less prevalent than it was two years ago.  As a shared concern for many global cities, I joined the leadership of the international Secure our Smartphones (S.O.S) Initiative in August 2013 and convened a meeting with senior executives of all phone manufacturers to press them to do more to improve security and protect their customers.  Shortly afterwards several companies, including Apple, introduced a 'kill switch' making stolen mobile phones far less attractive to criminals. These changes have had a dramatic effect, designing out crime and leading to a big drop in thefts in London and other cities like New York. 

In addition, targeted activity under the MPS' Operation Ringtone has tackled offences of Theft Person, Robbery and Theft involving smartphones over the last 12 months, with officers working to prevent, detect and reduce phone crime in a sustained way by problem-solving in repeat locations - e.g. licenced premises, at music events and tackling Foreign National Offenders and Organised Criminal Groups.

In the year to the end of September 2013 there were 51,530 thefts and robberies involving a smartphone in London - roughly 140 every day - and the majority of these crimes involved Apple phones. The following year, from October 2013 (the first full month after the release of Apple's 'Activation lock' in the iOS7 software) until October 2014, the number of phones stolen had reduced to 31,297 - or 85 a day, meaning over 20,000 fewer victims that year.  The monthly average for the number of phones stolen in London has more than halved since August 2013. This performance is a tribute to both the hard work of the MPS and the responsible approach taken by smartphone manufacturers.