Smart moves that can help to defeat the phone thieves
WHETHER out on tables, hanging out of pockets or being passed between friends, smartphones are everywhere.
But while a hit in the gadget charts, these high value items also carry a risk.
Well aware of their price tag, thieves are coming to Nottingham to target smartphones and sell them abroad.
Tapiwa Chipfunde, 17, of Old Basford, is well aware how quickly a phone can be taken.
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She was shopping in the city centre last June when her Blackberry was stolen.
"I sat down and put my phone next to me and I looked away for one second and then it was gone," she said.
"I asked behind the counter in the shop if anyone had handed it in but no one had.
"I didn't bother reporting it because I didn't think they would do anything about it but I was really angry. You hear about it a lot and I think it is something that obviously needs to be looked at."
Since 2012, theft from a person has risen by 50 per cent in the city centre.
Out of the 1,307 incidents, 1,097 involved a mobile phone.
Chief Inspector Shaun Ostle, of Notts Police's city division, said: "Mobile phones are an easily accessible, high value item, which many people take for granted.
"They get left on tables, hang out of people's pockets, or are left on view in open handbags, and we are seeing an increasing trend of people from different areas coming into Nottingham specifically to steal mobile phones.
"Having spoken to colleagues across the country, this is a national and international problem. The phones are often sold abroad."
In response to the rise, police have set up Operation Accelerate. As well as giving people crime prevention advice, several plain clothes operations will be set up.
Mr Ostle added: "With the large student population that we have, one of the main deterrents is awareness – ensuring people know how easily phones can be stolen, the tricks criminals use to distract people while stealing their belongings and ensuring people know what they can do to protect themselves, whether that be downloading a tracking app or making sure they are secured inside a locked bag."
iPhones are the most common phone to be stolen.
Mother-of-two Caroline Winsor, 51, of Kimberley, has two daughters.
She said: "I don't worry so much about them losing their phone in terms of the money, for me it would be the safety aspect – for example, if someone took their phone and I couldn't get through to them, that would worry me."
Leanne Whitehead, 25, of New Basford, is another mobile phone owner who has been targeted.
The Hockley cafe owner had her phone stolen last July from the counter in a Goosegate restaurant.
She said: "Someone came into the restaurant and stole my phone off the bar while I was in the kitchen one lunch time.
"I managed to trace it using 'Find My iPhone' app but I couldn't get through to the police and eventually the phone became untraceable.
"I ended up having to go into the station to report it after not being able to get through on the phone."
Georgina Pearce, 19, of Lenton, has also had her phone stolen.
The student admits that before she was pick-pocketed she didn't really give much thought to how much her iPhone 4S was worth.
Since the phone was stolen in December she has purchased a second, much cheaper phone to use while out in the city.
"We were walking along Lenton Boulevard and I checked my pockets and my phone wasn't there," said Georgina.
"We quickly retraced our steps but it wasn't there. It was a really horrible experience.
"I'm definitely not surprised that it's increased so much. I live with four other girls and two others had their iPhones stolen too, and I've got countless friends who have had their phones stolen while they were out, which is bad because people always just assume you've lost it.
"What it does is make you think that the thing you have in your hands is worth hundreds of pounds. I did know that before but I took it for granted."
Sian Green, 20, is a philosophy student and accommodation and community officer at the University of Nottingham Students' Union.
She said: "It is about awareness – people need to keep their phones on them, and be extra careful on nights out.
"You could try switching your sim card into a cheaper phone, which I sometimes do on a night out – you can get a cheap pay as you go phone for £10 and it just becomes a 'night out phone'."