Guarding Gadgets in the Nation’s Capital.
Navigating London’s Phone Theft Challenges
According to statistics released by the Met Police, over 90 000 phones were stolen in London last year, equating to an astonishing 250 phone thefts daily. These statistics highlight a disturbing trend, with thefts rising considerably when compared to the previous year. In 2022, a phone was stolen, on average, every six minutes in London.
Young people are disproportionately affected by phone theft. Worryingly, data also indicate that London’s vibrant tourist destinations serve as particularly attractive targets for phone snatchers. These statistics serve as a stark reminder to both tourists, visitors and residents about the importance of constant vigilance when exploring London.
Every year, London attracts millions of tourists from around the world and also from within the UK, most of whom rely on smartphones to navigate unfamiliar streets, connect with others and document their experiences. At Gadgetsure, we understand just how important a phone can be, and set out to discover more about phone-snatching habits in our nation’s capital.
London’s phone snatching hotspots
*Some outer boroughs removed from this map for clarity
The 10 worst boroughs for phone theft
The Top Three
Westminster is an iconic borough nestled in the heart of central London. Home to some of the country’s most recognisable landmarks, including the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Hyde Park and Buckingham Palace, the borough weaves centuries of royal heritage with political significance.
A fantastic blend of cultural diversity, world-class shopping and historical importance, London’s smallest borough is one of the country’s top tourist destinations. It also ranked first on our list of phone theft hotspots. Over the last year, according to data from the Metropolitan Police, 15 746 phones were reported as being stolen, equating to over a third of all phones reported as being stolen in London.
Trafalgar Square, in particular, harbours a reputation for pickpocketing, with prospective phone snatchers using bustling crowds to prey on unsuspecting tourists visiting the National Gallery and Nelson’s Column.
Camden borough, a bohemian haven, is popular among visitors and residents for its eclectic charm and vibrant spirit. Renowned for its bustling market, Camden offers a bewitching kaleidoscope of fashion, art and street food. Visitors to the borough can take a leisurely stroll down Regent’s Canal or visit iconic music and arts venue Roundhouse. Camden’s alternative atmosphere and authentic character are perfectly encapsulated in its wealth of independent shops, restaurants and bars. Street performers and the live music scene provide a perfectly immersive experience.
Unfortunately, visitors to Camden must always be on their guard. According to data from the Metropolitan Police, the borough is plagued by phone thefts, with 4257 phones reported as stolen in the last year. In recent years, Camden Market, in particular, has seen a rise in pickpocketing. The Market is now patrolled by security guards and CCTV cameras are in place to monitor potential criminal activity. Tourists must still be on their guard, however.
Southwark borough, something of a hidden gem, holds great appeal for visitors. Home to the majestic Tower Bridge and the historic Borough Market, Southwark provides ample opportunities for exploration and discovery. The vibrant neighbourhoods of Peckham and Bermondsey offer a wealth of culinary delights and the South Bank promenade, adjacent to the Thames, plays host to theatres, galleries and independent bookshops. Southwark offers a unique blend of fascinating heritage and chic modernity, making it an indispensable destination for visitors seeking an authentic London experience.
Southwark ranked third on our list of the London boroughs with the most phone thefts, with 3744 phones reported as being stolen. Borough Market, which attracts 15.5 million visitors every year, is a hotspot for pickpockets.
Before You Go: Essential Precautions to Safeguard Your Phone in Busy Cities
- Set up lock features: Make sure to set up a strong PIN code, fingerprint lock or facial recognition to prevent unauthorised access in the event that your phone does get stolen.
- Enable find my device: Ensure that the "Find My Device" or "Find My iPhone" feature is activated on your phone. This will help you locate your device if it's lost or stolen.
- Register Your Device: Register your phone's International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number with your service provider. If your phone is stolen, they can use this number to block the device from accessing their network.
- Insurance or Protection Plans: Consider investing in an insurance or protection plan for your phone. These plans can cover the cost of replacing your phone if it's stolen.
Guarding Your Gadget: Expert Tips to Keep Your Phone Safe in the City
- Stay aware: When visiting any city, practising constant vigilance is crucial to ensure the safety of belongings. Make sure to pay close attention to those around you, looking out for suspicious activity. This could include loitering, unsolicited help, excessive attention and unexpected bumping. Unusual clothing, such as wearing a big coat in warmer weather, could also indicate a potential phone snatcher.
- Keep your phone concealed: Avoid flaunting your phone in public places, as this may attract the attention of a potential thief. Store your phone in a secure pocket - avoid placing it in a back pocket as this can be easily accessed. Avoid backpacks, and opt for bags that cross your torso, as these are more difficult to snatch.
- Be wary of distractions: Someone attempting to divert your attention may be attempting to steal your phone. Distractions may include spilling a drink or attempting to ask for directions.
Lost and Found: A Step-by-Step Guide on Handling a Stolen Phone
- Try to stay calm.
- Contact your nearest police station to report the theft. Try to provide them with as much detail as possible. Identifying features, location and time may all help to reunite you with your phone, particularly if the thief is a repeat offender.
- Activate Find My Device. If your phone has these features, they can also be used for remote locking and to display a message with contact information.
- Inform your service provider and report the theft. SIM cards can be suspended to prevent unauthorised usage and help protect personal information.
- Change your passwords. If you had sensitive apps of accounts linked to your phone, change the passwords for these accounts immediately. This includes bank accounts, email accounts and social media.
- Protect Your Identity: If you had personal information on your phone, like photos, documents, and sensitive information, take steps to protect your identity. Consider changing email passwords, using two-factor authentication, and monitoring for any unusual activity.
- Insurance and Manufacturer: If you have insurance for your phone, contact your insurance provider. Identity Theft Prevention: Be vigilant against potential identity theft. Thieves might use your personal information for malicious purposes. Consider placing a fraud alert on your credit report.
- Backup and Restore: If you had a backup of your phone's data, you can restore your information to a new device once you have one. This helps recover your contacts, photos, and other important data.
Data Collection and Source: The methodology utilized data from the Metropolitan Police, specifically collected during the period between August 2022 and July 2023. This data source was chosen due to its comprehensive coverage of reported incidents within the specified timeframe.
Phone Theft Analysis by Borough: The primary objective was to analyze the frequency of phone thefts across various boroughs within London. The data provided by the Metropolitan Police was examined to extract the number of reported phone theft incidents for each borough. It's important to note that the data for the City of London was excluded from the analysis as it was not readily available within the provided dataset.
Selection of London Landmarks: In order to contextualize the findings, a selection of popular London landmarks was identified. The purpose of including landmarks was to provide a tangible reference point for the distribution of phone theft incidents across boroughs. These landmarks were chosen based on their significance as well as their widespread recognition.
Recording Borough Assignments: Each selected landmark was then associated with the specific borough in which it is situated. This information was derived from existing geographical and administrative data sources.