Saturday 1 October 2016

Gardaí worried by phone thefts rise

Published 19/03/2016 | 02:30

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A smart phone is stolen almost every hour in Ireland, with up to 20 taken from users daily.

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High-end mobile phones are now the single most valuable personal items stolen daily, with some handsets valued at almost €800.

A garda crackdown on such mobile phone crimes saw the overall rate of thefts fall by 5pc between 2014 and 2015.

But gardaí are worried by the spiralling overall value of the thefts given the soaring individual price of handsets.

It is estimated that €3m worth of smart phones was stolen in Ireland last year with the bulk of thefts occurring in pubs, nightclubs and at festivals.

One woman was arrested in a Cork nightclub last December with four stolen mobile phones hidden in her trousers and socks.

More than 300 mobile phones were stolen in just two days at three major festivals in 2014 including Indiependence in Cork, Spraoi in Waterford and the Pride event in Cork city.

The Indiependence thefts were later linked to a Romanian gang stealing electronic goods for the East European market.

Between 2012 and 2013, the theft of smart phones soared by 33pc across Ireland as thieves were stealing phones to order with Samsung Galaxy and Apple iPhones top of the list.

"It is a combination of phones being stolen to order as well as crimes of opportunity," a Garda National Crime Prevention Unit spokesman said.

"Tens of thousands of people are out socialising and everyone uses their smart-phone for photos, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat. So phones are readily accessible to thieves."

Gardaí stressed people often don't take sufficient precautions.

"We have had cases where iPhones were left on pub tables while people queued for drinks."

While the majority of thefts occur during the daytime, 20pc of all high-value handset thefts occur between 1am and 3am.

Irish Independent

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