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Robbery Prevention Campaign

Radio ads and posters have been placed in targeted locations at stations, phone booths and online to remind the public to be aware of where and when they choose to put their valuables on display.

The advertising highlights the importance of taking steps to protect phones, tablet devices, jewellery, cash and other valuables, and is timed to coincide with the start of the year when there is historically a rise in figures as children return to school and employees to workplaces.

MPS statistics for mobile phone crime offences traditionally show an increase in the month of January compared to the month of December - in December 2010 offences stood at 8,078, whereas they rose to 8,613 the following month, in January 2011.

Last month's figures, December 2012, show 9,751 mobile phone crime offences, continuing the trend.

Latest available financial year statistics also show that the number of robbery and theft (the latter category includes pick pocketing and 'snatch') offences increased in 2012. For the month of December 2012 there were a total of 17,583 offences, compared to 16,084 offences in December 2011.

Further statistics [financial year from 31 March to 1 April] also show a rise in the number of personal robbery offences where jewellery is targeted - with figures rising from 2,440 offences in 2009/10 to 2,761 offences in 2010/11 and 3,589 offences in 2011/12. To date 2012/13 [up to 31 December] there have been 2,681 offences.

Victims of robbery are more likely to be male, whereas females are more prone to theft. The most common profile for all victims however is a young professional likely to be aged between 20 and 30, out and about in the capital at an entertainment spot or other public places.

Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Letchford, Territorial Policing crime lead for the MPS, said: "We're trying to make people think differently with this campaign - having your personal possessions on show gives robbers a chance to make easy money. If you are a victim you may lose things that have a personal value to you and which can't always be replaced, in addition to the cost of replacing items.

"Just being conscious of where you are and being careful about when you display your valuables can help you avoid being targeted. Don't let yourself become a victim and ruin the start of your 2013."

Phones are by far the most common item stolen. Phones make up on average 70 per cent of items taken in personal robberies and Apple iPhones specifically account for around 50 per cent of all phones stolen.

Between April and September, 2012, 28,800 iPhones alone (out of a total number of 56,680 mobiles) were reported stolen in London - this equates to 314  phones of all types being stolen per day, and 158 iPhones specifically being stolen on average per day.

The MPS employs a range of tactics to tackle robbery and theft offences, using both covert and overt operations across the capital. These include high visibility patrols, the use of new and innovative technology to identify offenders and report crime and targeting the illegal mobile phone re-sale market. In a bid to encourage the public to help protect themselves, there is also a range of tips and visual demonstrations available on the MPS' social media channels of Youtube and Facebook.

Detective Chief Superintendent Letchford added: "While we will continue to work to reduce these offences, there are a number of practical steps you can take to help protect yourself - including videos and advice tips we have made available via our MPS website - and we would urge the public to view these."

Tips to avoid becoming a phone theft victim:

- 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 public transport hubs - these are often hotspots.

- Keeping both hands on the phone and holding it on the side of your body away from the street 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


case study 

The victim of a recent theft in London has spoken of her 'devastation' at losing hundreds of precious photos of her family after her phone was stolen in an apparent "hugger-mugger" incident.


Rebekah Campbell, a 26-year-old school teacher from Brixton, South London was targeted outside Brixton Underground Station at midnight on Friday, 30 November. Ms Campbell, originally from New Zealand, was alone at the time of the incident and was waiting to meet a friend when the theft occurred. As she waited, and after placing her iPhone in her jacket pocket, a man approached her and began to hug her. After backing away from the man and pushing him off, the man went on his way.


Shortly afterwards she realised the phone had been stolen, probably by an accomplice of the hugger, who struck as she was momentarily distracted.


Ms Campbell, who had recently returned from a visit to her native New Zealand, said: "I was waiting for a friend and holding my iPhone in my hand as I thought she may call me to let me know she was on her way. I then popped it into my jacket pocket after a few minutes. There were lots of people around at that time but I did notice there were two men right behind me.


"Shortly after, the taller of the two men came up to me and tried to hug me. I pushed him away telling him I didn't need one and thought that was that. I met my friend a few minutes later and it was then I realised my phone had been taken. I'm sure that the second of the two men had picked it from my pocket as the other one hugged me.


"I felt really upset and angry, and also violated. I've always been very cautious when in busy areas. I travel a lot and visit many places, but I always keep my belongings close by and secure. But, on this occasion I was distracted for the slightest moment.


"While I was very upset at what happened, I was devastated when I remembered that the phone contained about 1,500 photos from my visit back home in New Zealand. They were pictures of my friends and family and were completely irreplaceable. I also lost my contacts, emails and so many other things that my phone contained. It makes you realise how much you rely on them."


However, there was some consolation for Ms Campbell, when after five or so weeks, she realised her photos had been backed-up an online data storage facility. "I was so happy to hear my photos had not been lost after all", added Ms Campbell.


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