Beware of the phone snatchers
Akin to other areas of London, the Square Mile is being targeted by phone snatch thieves, who use bicycles, mopeds, and electric scooters to target those who live in, work in, and visit the city.
Victims are typically approached from behind whilst they are texting, making a call or using map and taxi applications; the thieves either by mount the pavement or remain on the roadside. Whilst offending can appear opportunistic, thieves are very well organised; they will go to areas of high footfall and transportation hubs, wear dark clothing and face coverings, cover identifiable markings, and even disguise themselves as delivery riders.
There are, however, some precautions you can take:
- Be aware of your surroundings and stay alert.
- When you don’t need to use it, keep your phone out of sight, and consider using hands-free.
- When using your phone consider standing away from the roadside, perhaps near a building or wall, so that no one can come up behind you.
- 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.
- If your phone is stolen or you witness a phone snatch, report it to the police ASAP – consider asking local businesses for assistance.
By taking these steps, you can reduce the risk of becoming a victim and keep yourself and your property safe.
The City of London Police is committed to tackling this issue and has launched Operation Niven. This force-wide initiative combines proactive activity such as high visibility and plain clothes patrols in hotspot areas, with prevention, by offering property marking, circulating awareness raising communications, and delivering security sector briefings. We hope that by taking an evidence-based approach and utilising different tactics, we can reduce offending and make the City a safer place.
Inspector Joe Easterbrook
City of London Police