Smartphone theft: Apple, Samsung and Nokia asked for help by London mayor

Summary:Thefts spike when new handsets are released, says the Mayor of London, who has written to Apple, Samsung and others asking for help to tackle mobile theft.

The mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has written to Apple, Samsung, Nokia and other handset makers asking for their help in tackling smartphone theft in the capital.

Around 10,000 handsets are stolen every month in London, and according to the Mayor's office there has been a troubling increase in the number of incidences of theft-from-persons offences — which in the last year rose by 12 percent.

This is largely driven by mobile phone theft, which accounts for 75 per cent of these offences. Figures also appear to show a correlation between the release of new smartphone models and spikes in thefts.

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The mayor and the leaders of the London Crime Reduction Board (LCRB), which has responsibility for public safety in the capital, have written to Apple, BlackBerry, Samsung, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Google-Motorola, HTC, and Microsoft to ask for help in tackling these crimes.

The mayor's letter said that smartphone theft is a problem "fuelled by a large cross-border black market in stolen devices involving organised criminal gangs who in our assessment are exploiting the poor safeguards for identifying stolen devices and the ease of selling on the handsets for use overseas. These criminals create thousands of new victims daily in London."

It added: "Police and criminal justice agencies cannot tackle this crime type alone. We need the companies who manufacture and supply these smartphones to play their part and take this issue seriously."

The letter, sent to the UK chief executives of the main mobile phone manufacturers, calls for "meaningful engagement from business and a clear demonstration that your company is serious about your corporate responsibility to help solve this problem".

The mayor is asking for each manufacturer to nominate a senior staff member to work with the LCRB through the Mayor's Office for Policing And Crime, and to detail the steps they have already taken to support the police and others in deterring theft, identifying stolen devices, and protecting the public.

Topics: Mobility, Apple, BlackBerry, Government : UK, Nokia, United Kingdom

About

Steve Ranger is the UK editor-in-chief of ZDNet and TechRepublic, and has been writing about technology, business and culture for more than a decade. Previously he was the editor of silicon.com.

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