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21st November 2012

Student 101: the rise of mobile phone theft

Emma Williams discusses the recent increase in stolen smartphones – and offers tips on how to avoid being part of the ‘brick’ club…

It’s like losing a limb, they say, or being thrown back into the dark ages, but when it happens to you, it almost feels as though your world has ended. Mobile phone theft is a crime that renders you almost helpless; no means of communication to ring your parents for the “You should be more vigilant” lecture, no way to play Angry Birds mid-lecture, and… How am I going to Instagram my Starbucks now?!

The frequency of mobile phone theft has frighteningly been on the up lately, with recent figures released showing that a staggering 260 mobile phones have been stolen on average everyday so far this year. Students are definitely vulnerable to most crimes, especially when it comes to the theft of a phone because most of us are on tariff contracts, have insurance being away from home and will probably have the newest model of smart phone in our pocket: prime targets.

Being a victim of mobile phone theft myself a few weeks ago on a night out in Cardiff (which along with London’s Hyde Park, is an apparent hot-spot for phone theft), I wondered how I could do anything to stop thieves and the consequential anxiety for every time afterwards when someone would brush past my bag. Useful tips from the Manchester Metropolitan Police encourage students not to have their phones or earphones on display when not in use, not to walk and text and to record your handset’s unique IMEI number to make it easier to track if it ends up being sold on the black market.

My sister too, recently had her phone stolen from her bag while it was on her, inside a nightclub, which does make you think that you must have your guard up everywhere you go. But there are ways to deter thieves from trying to nab your phone, which will stop your big night out from reaching a disastrous, sobbing conclusion, and most importantly keep your pristine new iPhone 5 safely in your possession:

Girls – invest in a zip-close bag. You’ll be able to feel any crafty pickpockets trying their luck compared to the quick, pop-open, button-fastened bags we all tend to use. The best for keeping your stuff safe, but a pain when it comes to dancing, is a clutch bag, because everything is held close to you. As long as you don’t dance around it or leave it in the booth for the night, you’re laughing!

Get yourself a cheapy ‘going out’ handset. It may seem like quite the effort, but it’s worth it if you’re a forgetful, drunken mess most nights. Yes, you won’t look like the most tech-friendly person as you whack out your old brick handset to swap numbers with someone in the club, but let’s face it—nobody’s going to mug you for your old Nokia paperweight, are they?

Remember to take heed when you’re out on the murky streets of Fallowfield, especially as it gets dark earlier, and to avoid the reversion to your old 3310 handset at all costs: keep your phone safely hidden away when you’re out alone or in a dodgy area.

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