Gadgets For Christmas?

Met police warn owners to protect them against thieves

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The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) is warning owners of new electronic gadgets given as Christmas presents to take steps to protect themselves from thieves as figures for personal robbery and theft start rising over the next few weeks.

Traditionally there is a spike in figures at the end of December into January as children return to school and residents to work with their brand new acquisitions - making London attractive to robbers aiming to get their hands on the latest gadgets.

MPS figures show a historic pattern of increases in mobile phone crime offences in the month of January compared with the month of December. Latest available figures show that in December 2010 offences stood at 8,078 and rose to 8,613 in January 2011.

Between April and September 2012, 28,800 iPhones alone (out of a total number of 56,680 mobiles) were reported stolen in London, 170 a day on average. There were also 139,345 burglary, robbery and theft and handling stolen goods offences related to all phones, laptops and MP3 players between 1 October 2011 and end of September 2012, compared with
131,506 over the same time period the previous year, a rise of around 6%.

In England and Wales there are approximately 330,000 phones reported stolen a year. In London, statistics show phones are stolen in around 70% of personal robberies.

Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Letchford, Territorial Policing crime lead for the MPS, said: "Many of these phones and other devices are worth hundreds of pounds and not only contain personal information but may also have photographs of sentimental value that can't easily be replaced. People need to take as much care of their phones in the same way as they would their other valuables - they would be reluctant for example to openly display hundreds of pounds worth of cash in the street.

"There are a number of practical steps you can take to help protect against theft of your phone - and which will give us the best chance in the event of a robbery or theft of getting it back for you. I would urge all owners to take the time to carry these out."

Police advise that all owners should find the IMEI number - the unique serial number which is usually found under the battery of a device or by entering *#06# on the keypad - and register it on

All UK police officers can access the Immobilise database to check the status of any mobile phone they are suspicious of - and it helps police arrest those responsible and repatriate the phone if it is recovered. The MPS alone conducts over 20,000 checks a month.

It is also vital to put a password or pin lock onto an electronic device as any thief will then have more trouble accessing the personal data it may contain. Downloading a tracking application such as 'Find my iPhone/iPad' (which are free) or one of the other similar applications for other smartphones and tablets, is also a good idea though police caution that GPS positioning is not always 100% accurate. It varies depending on whether the location is inside or outside, and can usually only pinpoint to a certain degree, eg in the case of a street, the location might include several houses, or a whole pub.

If your phone is stolen its important to report it to police as soon as possible on 101, or if violence was involved, 999. If remote wiping is available to you, use the facility post theft if your handset is stolen.

Alerting your service provider to block the phone is also critical, as it prevents it from being used on UK networks and alerts UK recyclers and other outlets that there is a problem with it in case the thief offers it to them for sale.

However it is important not to ask your service provider to block your phone until after you have contacted police, as they will not be able to activate your tracker and thus potentially lose any trail to the thief if it is already blocked.


- Ensure it's harder for thieves to get at your phone by making a habit of keeping it in a secure or zipped pocket

- If you are getting out your phone out in the street, don't attract attention to it - try to avoid texting/checking it as you are walking along and be especially alert when taking it out as you emerge from a train/tube station - these are often hotspots.

- Keeping both hands on the phone and holding it on the building rather than street side of your body can make it harder from thieves on pedal or motorbikes to snatch it from you.

- Never leave your phone unattended in a public place and don't leave it lying in front of you on a table as you could become prey to distraction theft. A lot of thefts occur in pubs, restaurants or concerts where the phone is left in handbags or unattended jackets

- Don't leave your phone in an unattended car - if you must, lock it out of sight. It only takes seconds for a thief to smash a window and steal it

HOW TO PROTECT the find my i-phone app in case of robbery
1. Select Settings
2. Select General
3. Select Restrictions
4. Set a Restrictions passcode
5. Select Enable Restrictions
6. Find "Deleting Apps" and toggle the switch to "off" so that no-one in possession of your phone can delete an app such as Find My iPhone without the passcode.
7. Scroll down the options list to the "Privacy" section. Click the link to "Locations Services".
8. Select "Don't Allow Changes". This makes is impossible for someone to disable the Find My iPhone application but this will mean you have approve all newly installed apps to access your location data.
9. Return to the "Restrictions" menu and select "Accounts". Change this setting to "Don't Allow Changes". This will make stop anyone disconnecting the phone from the iCloud account that connects to Find My iPhone.
10. Remember, if your iPhone is lost or stolen, it will only transmit its location if a SIM card is inserted and active. You may therefore choose not to report the loss to your mobile provider until you have spoken to police.

December 28, 2012