Almost € 3 million worth of mobile phones were stolen over the last 14 months according to newly released figures.
Gardaí have received reports of over 7,000 mobile phones being stolen since the start of January last year. The majority of all thefts involve the robbery of a mobile phone according to An Garda Síochána.
Most of the phones stolen were smartphones, and gardaí are launching a Crime Prevention Day of Action today ahead of the St Patrick’s Festival period which is always a particularly busy time of year for thefts and robberies.
Latest statistics show that two out of every five robberies and thefts occur between the hours of 10pm and 4am, with over half happening between Friday and Sunday.
The number of mobile phones reported stolen to gardaí fell slightly last year compared to 2014.
Groups including the Irish Telecommunications Security and Fraud Forum are advising people to be wary of their belongings and to take note of their phone’s unique IMEI number.
The IMEI number can be found inside the battery compartment of many phones, and is located on the pull-out tray or back of iPhones.
Phone users can also access their model’s IMEI number by dialling *#06# which they are then advised to save for future reference.
Gardaí say a phone can be traced back to its rightful owner more easily if they are aware of the IMEI number, and gave an example of a haul of 15 phones recovered in Galway recently which were all identified by their IMEI numbers and returned to their owners.
"An Garda Síochána strongly recommends that smart phone owners record details of their IMEI number. Only one in three people have this unique number when reporting their smart phone stolen," said Sergeant Kelvin Courtney of the National Crime Prevention Unit.
He continued: “Knowing your IMEI number is important for several reasons. Firstly, An Garda Síochána can reunite recovered smart phones far easier if the IMEI number is reported to us at the time of theft or loss.
“Secondly, if the phone is registered with a service provider the IMEI number can be blocked on the networks, rendering the phone useless for anything other than parts.
“Thirdly, convicting the thief or handler of the phone becomes more straightforward if an injured party has been identified.”
Members of the public are reminded not to leave their phones on tables in bars, nightclubs, restaurants or exposed in vehicles, and should ideally operate phones with their backs against a wall or shop window in public places to stop would-be thieves snatching them from behind.