Mobile phone theft has increased 25% in the past three years, with an average 264 mobile phone robberies currently reported to the Police each day.
According to official data obtained by LV=, over half of mobile phone thieves are in their teens but some are as young as nine years old, and only 1% of stolen phones are ever recovered.
Pickpocketing is the most common form of mobile phone theft but 8% of robberies involve phones being snatched when in use and a further 6% are stolen in muggings.
Thieves usually target crowded areas and according to Police records, hotspots include Hyde Park in London (163 thefts reported between May and August 2012) and Greyfriars Road in Cardiff (125 thefts so far this year).
Other areas identified include Sheffield City Centre (1,309 thefts so far this year), Leicester City (Castle Ward, 742 reported) and Bristol City Centre (399 reported).
The average smartphone now has a black-market value of over £400 for the handset, downloaded content and paid-for apps, and stolen mobiles are usually sold on to recycling companies and unsuspecting buyers through online auction sites, or exported for sale in Africa, Asia and Europe.
In addition to the handset value, the potential value of a smartphone to a hacker is considerable as people use their phones to check their bank accounts and update personal information on social networking sites.
Despite this, 59% of adults do not have password protection on their phone and few take the time to log out of banking or social networking apps, making it easy for criminals to steal their details.
LV= home insurance managing director, John O’Roarke, comments: “The best way to protect yourself from theft is to use a password on your phone, keep it hidden away when you’re not using it, and ensure your phone is properly insured.”