Keep your smart-phone in your pocket in public places this festive season or it could be whipped from your hand in seconds, Gardaí have warned.
The advice to be smart with your mobile comes as over 12,000 phones have been reported stolen in the last year, according to the latest figures from An Garda Siochana.
The number of phones targeted by criminal gangs, worth an estimated €5m in total, is up by over 33 per cent from the same time period in 2011.
"Mobile phone theft is on the rise as gangs target high-value smart phones. These are expensive items and people should take the same care of them as they would any item that costs up to €500 and more,” advised Sgt Alan Roughneen of the National Crime Prevention Unit.
"Smart phone owners need to be more vigilant, particularly when we are coming into a time of the year when they are more likely to be out socialising,” Sgt Roughneed continued.
“All too often we see smart phones worth hundreds of euro being left out on tables in bars, nightclubs, café or restaurant tables while people chat and this makes it very easy for criminals to simply walk past and steal them.
“People should also avoid using their phones while walking on the street as it means you are distracted and won’t be able to react to prevent your device being taken from you in mid-sentence,” he added.
Gardaí have recommended that those who receive a smart phone from Santa or a loved one this Christmas register the phone with their Service Provider and take note of their unique IMEI number and keep it safe in a location other than their phone.
If the phone is stolen, this number is used to disable to phone.
Find out your IMEI code by dialling *#06# on your keypad.