Over 2,000 mobiles are lost or stolen each week

 

More than 2,000 mobile phones are stolen or lost in Ireland every week, it has emerged.

It appears most of the phones reported stolen have been lifted by opportunists preying on the carelessness of phone owners who often leave mobiles out of their hands in public places.

The figures, compiled by Eircell, were circulated following reports in Britain that mobile phone thefts surged last year, with an estimated 710,000 handsets stolen - the equivalent of more than 13,000 phones a week.

No figures are kept by the Garda on mobile phone thefts reported in the Republic - its figures record all larcenies but are not broken down into categories of items stolen.

Most owners immediately call their network, Eircell or Esat Digifone, to have their phone blocked when it is lost or stolen and it is from this data that the Eircell figures emerge. A spokesman for Esat Digifone said 40 per cent of claims made on its insurance policies were a result of theft.

"We haven't experienced a noticeable increase in claims as a result of theft. It's been consistent from day one," he said.

Ms Olga O'Keefe of Eircell said the mobile phone thefts reported to it were not of a violent nature. "They were more as a result of carelessness, with phones being left unattended in pubs etc," she said.

She advised customers to keep their phones on their person, to keep them locked when not in use and to treat the PIN number with the same care as they would treat a banking PIN number.

Senior British police figures have condemned a report into the dramatic rise in thefts of mobile telephones, saying race relations could be damaged by identifying young black men as the main suspects.