Mobile Phone Theft – A 21st Century Crimewave?

What Mobile
May 13, 2020

Essex-based insurance company loveit coverit have produced unique data looking into smartphone crime. The data offers a unique insight into the frequency of smartphone thefts and the most densely targeted locations, based on the number of claims that are made each year.

75% of thefts are iPhones

5% of all phone insurance claims are for theft

Phone theft is 2x more likely in London

Your smartphone is likely to be a valuable device, particularly if you’ve got one of the latest models. As such, thieves regard it as a desirable item, and they’ll do their best to get their hands on it.

But what has the impact been for individuals? Mobile technology has advanced so much that we can implement first-class security measures, but nevertheless the price of these technologies makes them all the more desirable to criminals. Loveit coverit examines data to investigate whether mobile phone theft is a modern-day crime wave.

Based on loveit coverit’s independent smartphone theft claims data, the research identifies London and Essex are most at risk. The data pinpoints London contributing 10% of all theft claims with 1 in 15 occurring in East London postcodes and 1 in 10 occurring in West London. A prominent reason for this could simply be that East London has a larger total population than the western postcodes, which would account for the disparity in apparent smartphone thefts. Essex also proved to be an unlucky location for mobile phone devices accounting for 7.5% of all insurance theft claims.

Use loveit coverit’s interactive map – based on real loveit coverit claims data – to see if your area is in the mobile phone theft risk zone.

Data from the wider United Kingdom shows that only 5% of phone insurance claims are for theft – suggesting that 1 in 20 smartphone owners have their device stolen each year. When compared with the statistics in London, this suggests that phone users are twice as likely to have their personal property stolen in the city than anywhere else.

In terms of smartphone models, the data also indicates who might be most at risk. Looking at the entirety of the UK, 68.6% of stolen phones are iPhones. This shouldn’t be a huge surprise as the iPhone is one of the most popular smartphones in the country. The second most popular smartphone model in the UK – Samsung – accounts for only 20% of all smartphone thefts.

In 2019 those most at risk of phone theft are adults between the ages of 25-35. According to the research, this age group accounted for 14.9% of all phone thefts from a person. This could be due to the fact that this age group are more likely to have expensive phone models. 1 in 10 mobile phone thefts were committed against children under the age of 18, with 14-17 year olds being the most at risk.

Toby Stubbington, Managing Director of loveit coverit, commented: “In recent years loveit coverit has seen a stark rise in the number of mobile theft claims made in London and surrounding areas. Daunting as it may be, this data exemplifies why purchasing insurance is such an important element of phone ownership as our mobiles are often a costly possession that we cannot afford to lose. Outside of insurance, individuals can guard against phone theft by educating themselves on common safeguarding measures.”

It’s estimated that between 3-7% of all reported crime is made up of theft from a person. Stealth stealing is still the most prevalent form of smartphone theft. Sneaky thieving from the person accounts for 50 to 60% of cases. Snatch thefts only account for 10 to 20%. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t protect yourself against this type of crime. This is especially the case if you’re using your phone on a busy street, for example, where a criminal can easily grab the device from your hand whilst you’re talking.

Whilst the physical theft of smartphones is an evident and pressing concern, it is also vital that we consider the ways in which we can safeguard ourselves against cybercrime.

David Emm, Principal Security Researcher of Kaspersky, a provider of security and threat management solutions, commented; In our current digital world, the threat of cybercrime is ever-increasing. At present, our records identify the most prominent threat to be that of mobile banking trojans as they cause many individual’s direct financial loss. Alongside this, we can also identify the two biggest threat categories to be adware and riskware – a major element of these threats being ‘stalkerware.”

Emm added: “The programmes used survey victims, monitor their activities as well as track their movements. Unfortunately, the number of detections for these programs have risen substantially; from 40,386 in 2018 to 67,500 in 2019. Although many individuals invest in anti-virus protection for their computer or laptop, mobile phone protection is often neglected. It is our view that the government should be taking more proactive measures, such as utilising mass public advertising, to inform the public of such risks.”

Experiencing theft is one of the disrupting things that can happen to a person – and the theft of a smartphone is just as invasive and damaging. With those in urban centres more at risk than others, it’s important that you know how to protect your belongings, whether you’re out and about or simply at home.

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