Bid to reduce smartphone theft

02:39, Dec 14 2012

Mobile phone providers are working with police to improve the blocking of stolen smartphones after a rash of thefts in Auckland.

Inspector Andrew Coster, Auckland Central area commander, said about 50 per cent of all thefts in the central city were 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."

Coster said officers yesterday executed a search warrant at a central city apartment where a large quantity of stolen property was recovered which was believed to have been payment for methamphetamine. 

Coster said it was concerning that so many thefts appeared to be because people were not showing enough care for "expensive items".

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

Police were working with telecommunications providers to improve the reporting and blocking of phones that are stolen which would have a "significant impact on the resale and desirability of stolen phones".

Similar initiatives overseas had "dramatically reduced the thefts of such items," he said.

"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."

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