Westminster to record most phone thefts of any London borough in last five years

Westminster is the London borough with the most mobile phone thefts, Met Police data has shown.

Nearly 20,000 incidents were recorded in the first 10 months of this year alone in Westminster, which is projected to record the highest number of reported phone thefts of any London borough in the last five years, surpassing its own 2019 record of 20,349 reports. 

“It made me not want to come back to London,” said Rebecca Gilmore, 25, a junior doctor who had her phone stolen last month while visiting the capital to meet her newborn nephew.

Her phone was taken out of the front pocket of her jeans while shopping on Regent Street.

She said: “I was distraught because I thought I had lost all the photos of my nephew. I’m lucky it was automatically backed-up to the cloud.”

In total, 72,853 phone thefts have been reported in London during the first 10 months of this year.

They are most commonly stolen via pickpocketing, table surfing, and snatching by criminals riding mopeds, according to the Met.

Since 2018, Westminster has consistently seen over double the number of reported phone thefts than Camden, the borough with the second highest number of reports.

So far this year, Westminster has recorded triple that of Camden’s 6,377 thefts. 

According to data detailing the last five years, Islington, Southwark, and Hackney have all experienced the third, fourth, and fifth most phone theft reports.

The Met’s crime prevention advice encourages Londoners to “be aware of your surroundings and only use your mobile when it feels safe to do so”.

To help in the event your phone is stolen, they advise phone owners to regularly back up their data, enable phone tracking apps, and know their phone’s IMEI number, which can be found by typing *#06# on the phone’s keypad.

Samira Iravani, 27, also had her phone stolen in Westminster last month.

While walking through Chinatown around 8pm, she suddenly noticed her coat pocket felt lighter and the pocket’s clasp had been opened. 

Samira, who had spent two years paying for her iPhone in instalments, said: “I was very sad to have it stolen after all that effort.

“I made the mistake of not having any insurance and also not having my phone backed up so I lost all my photos and files.”

Both Rebecca and Samira reported their phone thefts via the Met’s online reporting system but aside from recording the report, both were told that there was nothing the Met could do.

This is despite the fact that Rebecca claims she informed the police that she had been able to track her iPhone’s location to an address in Walthamstow.

Reports of phone thefts in Westminster decreased by over 10,000 in 2020, compared to the previous year, as the UK experienced pandemic lockdowns. 

However, the number of recorded thefts had returned to pre-pandemic levels by 2021.

The Metropolitan Police declined to provide comment for this article, while Westminster City Council did not respond to a request for comment.

Featured image credit: Martin Dunst via Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 4.0 licence

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