Warning as thieves target mobile phone users in Nottingham
POLICE have issued a warning about a new scam being used to steal mobile phones in the city.
Thieves have been captured on CCTV targeting people sitting in coffee shops or restaurants.
They use a newspaper, map, or similar prop to distract people before swiping their mobile phones from their tables.
In many cases people do not even realise their phones have been stolen and think they must have lost them – but police have managed to connect the crimes after surveying CCTV from the shops.
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Among the coffee shops that have been targeted is the Costa at the corner of Wheeler Gate and the Old Market Square. Nick Coxon of, the force's Digital Image Evidence Unit, said: "We're seeing an increase in distraction thefts of this type.
"The thieves will enter a coffee shop or similar premises, target a potential victim who has a mobile phone on display, approach and distract them with the prop by placing it between the victim's line of sight and the mobile phone, whilst surreptitiously removing it from the table.
"Once the mobile phone has been stolen, the offenders quickly exit the premises prior to the victim realising it's gone."
Mr Coxon added: "It's really important that people remain vigilant. It's also really helpful if the phone has a tracking device, so if it's stolen, we can trace it."
There are a number of apps which can be downloaded on to smartphones to help track them down if stolen.
The usefulness of them was highlighted last weekend after a student who had one of the apps had her phone stolen in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Chief Inspector Andy Rooke said: "Officers used the tracking device that had been loaded onto the phone to trace it to an address in Radford.
"Upon gaining entry to the address, they arrested four men in possession of over 80 mobile phones. This was an excellent result."
Two of the men have since been bailed, while two remain in custody.
Tracking apps are free and can be downloaded to any smartphone.
Those with android phones can use Where's my Droid? Texting a special code from another phone to the stolen phone causes it to emit an alert at maximum volume.
iPhone users can download Find my iPhone, which lets you locate it on a map while sounding an alarm.
Blackberry users should try Blackberry Protect which backs up your phone's memory and can help to locate a missing phone.
Have you been the target of mobile phone thieves? Call our crime correspondent Chris Breese on 0115 905 1954 or email him with your experiences: firstname.lastname@example.org