By Adetutu Sobowale
In recent times, phone firms have been urged to help in the reduction of thefts after police data revealed that every six minutes, a mobile phone was stolen in London last year.
The Met Police revealed that in 2022, 90,864 phones were stolen with an estimate of almost 250 a day.
BBC reports that the London mayor and Met commissioner have urged mobile industry bosses to “design out” incentives to steal them.
Mobile UK, representing UK networks, said measures were in place to “combat” theft. Leading phone makers Apple and Samsung have been asked to comment.
In an open letter, Mayor Sadiq Khan and Met chief Sir Mark Rowley said software designers must “develop solutions to make this crime less rewarding”.
They urged mobile phone providers to work with City Hall and police as new figures show that mobile phone crime is driving the rise in robberies and thefts in the capital with 38% of all personal robberies last year involving a phone being stolen.
Statistics also show nearly 70% of all thefts in London last year were related to mobile phones.
In previous years, car manufacturers have worked with police to substantially reduce the thefts of car radios and sat navs by integrating them into vehicle dashboards.
Speaking on the new data, Sir Mark said: “The current practice of allowing stolen mobiles to be re-registered by new users within the phone industry inadvertently enables a criminal market which drives robbery, thefts, and violent offending in London.
“We’ve been really clear there are root causes of violence we cannot tackle alone. We need partners to step up to the plate and work alongside us to break this cycle of violence.”
However, tech expert Jake Moore expressed skepticism of what Mr Khan and Sir Mark’s have called for, given the vast volume of mobile phones circulating in the UK.
“It would cause a potential nightmare, and you could find people accused of owning a stolen phone when it’s actually theirs. Proving legitimate purchases, especially from second-hand websites that many people use, would be challenging. I can’t see any company enforcing this. It just escalates into a bigger problem.”
Mr. Khan said, “The spiraling cost of living threatens to exacerbate the drivers of violence and robberies, which we know disproportionately impact young people. It was “simply too easy and profitable for criminals right now to repurpose and sell on stolen phones”.
In their remark, Mobile UK said, “We welcome the opportunity to work with the Met, the mayor’s office, device manufacturers, and the wider industry to continue to reduce this crime further.”