Rise in smartphone thefts

Police say that recent arrests and search warrants executed in Auckland central city have given them an insight into the movement of stolen property used in exchange for drugs and cash.

Around 30 - 50 per cent of all theft offences in the central city relate to smartphones. A common trend is for opportunistic thieves to steal property from people who are otherwise distracted in public places. This may include grabbing a handbag from under a café table or taking a cell phone out of a pocket when a jacket has been left unattended.

Some thieves are approaching people in the street to sell stolen smartphones, generally for fairly small amounts of money. Otherwise these items are taken to receivers and exchanged for drugs or cash.

"Police are concerned that so many thefts are the result of lack of care for expensive items," Auckland City Central Area Commander Inspector Andrew Coster says.

"It is also worrying that there are many people prepared to pay cash for obviously cheap items that are most likely stolen.

"It's timely to remind the public of the need to take care of such personal property because thieves will accept any invitation you give them to help themselves to small expensive items."

As a way of reducing the desirability of stolen smartphones, Police are working with telecommunications providers to improve the reporting and blocking of phones that are stolen, across all telecommunications networks, which Police say would have a significant impact on the resale and desirability of stolen phones.

Where used overseas, such initiatives have dramatically reduced the thefts of such items.

- The Aucklander

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