A special police operation to reduce phone snatching in the City of London has cut the number of offences in half.
Since June 2023, there have been 263 phone snatching offences, compared to 516 for the same period last year.
The aim of the City of London Police’s targeted operation was to prevent the worrying rise the force saw in phone snatching in 2022. The number of phones stolen rose sharply in 2022 during the summer months, when visitors to the City would have their mobiles in their hands to seek directions or hire rides. In July 2022, there was a record high of 148 mobile phones stolen. This July the police reduced the number dramatically to 44.
Police put in place a number of activities including:
Spraying criminals and their mopeds with a DNA spray in a bid to link them to crimes if they race away;
Suspected shop owners buying stolen handsets have been raided; and
A new cycle team set up to help tackle phone snatchers, as well as other offences.
The City of London Police relaunched its cycling capability this summer to help combat phone snatching, as well as other offences like drug and road offences. The cycle response unit is highly visible, approachable and able to quickly get through areas inaccessible to vehicles.
Superintendent Neal Donohoe, of the City of London Police, said:
“Phone snatching has a significant impact on victims and our key priority has been to reduce the number of phones stolen and we relentlessly target those criminals responsible.
“Our success has been due to the hard work of our officers and the introduction of our highly visible cycle team, who are able to quickly get across the square mile and deter snatchers.
“The Christmas period is another busy period for opportunistic criminals, so we will not be complacent. If you come to the City to steal, you can expect a robust response.”
The force is reminding the public ahead of the Christmas period how they can protect themselves from phone theft. Advice includes:
Be aware of your surroundings and stay alert.
Record your phone’s IMEI number by keying *#06# – this can then be provided to the police and your service provider in the event of a theft, and your phone can be blocked.
Install a tracking app and better secure your phone with a password and biometric authentication, such as fingerprint, voice or facial recognition.
Contact the police as soon as your phone has been stolen.
James Thomson, Chair of the City of London Police Authority Board, said:
“With well over half a million workers commuting into the City of London, many on a daily basis, and over 10 million visitors annually, the Square Mile appears attractive to phone snatchers.
“The City of London Police have been very proactive and innovative in the way these ways these criminals are tackled, phones are recovered and the most prolific perpetrators jailed. This has been complemented by crime prevention messaging. The results speak for themselves.
“The Square Mile continues to be the safest business district in the world for all those that live, work or visit.”