With figures suggesting that over 74% of the population now own a smartphone, it is hardly surprising that the theft of mobile phones is also on the up. What is shocking, though, are the victims of this type of crime. Here we take a look at why phone theft is so high, and still rising, and why mobile phone insurance is now, more than ever, so important.
The Times reported only this week that there has been a sharp rise in the rate of street crime over the past few years, with over 170 iPhones being stolen in the UK every day. A 34-year-old film producer from London told of how her brand new Samsung Galaxy smartphone was simply snatched out of her hand by a cyclist at a bus stop.
Another story has emerged this week about an 11-year-old boy who was threatened with violence to surrender his BlackBerry whilst on the bus home from school. Some people argue that mobile phones are bandied about in public too much and are simply asking to be stolen; in this case, however, the boy’s phone was safely tucked away in his bag until he was forced to hand it over.
Figures acquired under the Freedom of Information Act demonstrate that not only is mobile phone theft on the rise, but that a high percentage of its victims are those under the age of 21. Over 1,223 phones were stolen in Nottinghamshire alone in 2012, and out of these, 40 per cent were from young people. This isn’t just the case in Nottinghamshire, either. In Cheshire the proportion of thefts that were from under 21-year-olds was 35 per cent; in Hertfordshire 32 per cent; and in Cumbria 28 per cent.
In some parts of the country, policemen are now patrolling outside schools in order to control the scale of smartphone theft. This isn’t a viable long-term solution however, especially as many incidents occur outside of school hours. Some people have argued that young people are victims because they are given phones at too young an age, a large majority of them comprising the latest models such as the iPhone. Keith Hayward, the professor of Criminology at the University of Kent stated that “it would be best to give [children] a phone that is not top of the range”. But is this right? Should we allow criminals to dictate which phones young people should and shouldn’t own?
There are obviously ways in which we can reduce the likelihood of getting our mobile phone stolen. Limiting use when in public, keeping devices zipped away in bags and not carrying them in your back pocket are just a few suggestions. But sometimes even when we are as careful as we can be with our smartphones, incidents can happen, and our devices can get stolen. When this happens, there is one simple way of recovering the cost of sometimes expensive phones: insurance.
Though mobile phone insurance cannot undo the stress or fear that having your phone stolen can cause, it is a sure fire way of dealing with the financial impact of an incident of theft. Critics have often warned people off investing in insurance for their mobile phones due to the strict terms and conditions that applied when making a claim. However, with an increase in insurance specialising in electronics, and with the latest smartphones costing up to £600, mobile phone insurance is more important now than ever.
Although there are various smartphone apps to help track your stolen tech such as Find My iPhone and Locate My Droid apps, there are limits to relying on these programmes to actually recover a lost or stolen phone. For instance, while most apps can use GPS to locate the position of the stolen device, it is often impossible to find the actual phone itself. This is where phone insurance can come in handy; while you may have to fork out an excess to make a claim, this would still be up to 80% cheaper than purchasing a brand new replacement smartphone.
Written by Charlotte Kertrestel