Warning as smartphone thieves hit city venues

GANGS of thieves stole more than £140,000 worth of hi-tech mobile phones during a crime spree.

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Smartphones have become a favourite target of sneak thieves
Smartphones have become a favourite target of sneak thieves

A three month-long blitz saw target customers targeted at busy pubs, clubs and restaurants in the city centre.

More than 280 mobile phones, including iPhones, BlackBerrys and other smartphones, were snatched during a spate of thefts.

They took place between October 1 and December 11 this year. Police revealed 58% of these incidents took place within licensed premises.

There were also thefts of personal property, including handbags, purses and wallets.

More than 200 people have fallen victim to thieves in the past few weeks and police are warning the public to keep their mobile phones safe - and out of sight.

Late-night revellers have been targeted, as well as shoppers and workers during the day.

Police say the sale of stolen goods, including mobile phones and laptops, is part of a network of serious and organised crime allegedly linked to gangs and violence.

Chief Inspector Alan Porte -the officer in charge of policing the city centre - said: "Owners must take care of their property.

"We are working hard to identify those persons responsible for these thefts.

"But following simple safety precautions, such as keeping a phone in a closed handbag or zipped pocket, can prevent theft."

Mr Porte vowed to pursue anyone involved in mobile phone crime.

Opportunist thieves target festive party-goers in the city centre, as well as people waiting in shop, bus and taxi queues.

It is believed thieves operate in groups or pairs and use diversionary tactics, such as trying to engage people in conversation, while the other thief grabs the mobile phone.

People are advised to keep a note of their International Mobile Equipment Identity, or IMEI, which makes it easier for police to identify a phone when it is traced.

The IMEI number, which is a 15 or 17 digit code, is generally found under the phone's battery.

For further information on how to secure your mobile, visit the UK National Property Security register site, www.immobilise.com

Anyone with any information on the thefts is asked to contact Police Scotland on 101.



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