The Crime Prevention Website


Figures released by the Home Office in early 2010 suggest that about 2 million mobile phones are reported as stolen each year.  Of these about 1.3 million are subsequently found by the owner down the back of a chair or some other place around the home or in the car, still leaving 700,000 lost to the criminal fraternity. You won’t be surprised to learn that this translates to a victimisation rate of about 2% of mobile phone users per year with a rate of 6% for teenagers.  About 40% of street robberies involve the theft of a mobile phone and in about 15% of burglaries the mobile goes missing.   However, a great many of the reports are connected with insurance fraud and identity fraud, whereby they’re reported lost when they haven’t been and where thieves get hold of subsidised phones by buying phone contracts under false names.


  • DO  make a note of the IMEI number and register your phone at Immobilise  
  • DO be aware when you are using a mobile in public of who is in the vicinity and if in doubt delay that call for a few moments until you feel safe to use it
  • DO consider marking it with an approved property marking system as described above
  • DO check the IMEI number of a second hand phone at  Checkmend  before you buy it
  • DO contact your network provider to report it lost or stolen and the police if stolen as soon as you can, but do check all your pockets, the car and the back of the sofa before you do so!
  • DO visit the  National Mobile Phone Crime Unit
  • DO make use of the PIN facility on your phone to prevent access to personal data
  • DON'T buy phones if you are at all suspicious about their history as you might be breaking the law and they probably won’t work anyway
  • DON'T use the services of somebody who says he can unblock your phone unless that person is an official representative of the network provider 

Registering your mobile phone

When you buy a mobile phone from a reputable retailer, register it on the Immobilise database.  Immobilise is an international database that records the details of any object that has a serial number.  It has the support of the UK police forces who regularly check the database themselves when trying to establish if a mobile phone is stolen.  Please visit

When you register your phone with Immobilise you’ll need to supply the unique serial number, which is the IMEI or International Mobile Equipment Identity number.  This number can be found on a label in the battery compartment or on the phone itself by pressing keys * # 0 6 #  

You’ll also be asked for other information, such as the make and model of the phone, other identifying marks, when you bought it and how much it cost.  It literally takes a couple of minutes to run through the process. 

Reporting a mobile phone lost or stolen

Should your phone become lost or stolen report it to your network operator immediately and to the police if stolen.  The network operator will be able to block the phone and render it useless, even if a new sim card is used. 

Other than for the manufacturer or authorised agents acting on their behalf it is an offence for someone to re-programme or unblock a mobile telephone or offer to do it.  The offences were created by the  Mobile Telephones (Re-Programming) Act 2002

Register your stolen phone on Immobilise or update your account to show it stolen or lost if you have already registered. 

If you don’t know the phone numbers of the network operators call Immobilise on 08701 123 123 and listen to the recorded message.

The following network operator telephone numbers are currently shown on the National Mobile Phone Crime Unit’s website

Network operator telephone numbers

Network Operator


Phone numbers



0800 800 151



0344 8090 222



07953 966 250



07973 100 450



0345 301 4455

3 (Three)


0333 338 1001

T Mobile


0845 412 5000



0345 6000 789



03333 040 191


Other useful stuff about mobile phones

If you are thinking about buying a phone via another source, such as from that guy down the pub called Geoff who’s always good for a mobile, get the IMEI number first and check it on the  Immobilise database  at before you buy it.  The check will cost you a couple of pounds, but you’ll know if it’s nicked or blocked or subject of an insurance claim.  You can carry out checks on any items of property that carry unique serial numbers, such as laptops, satnavs and music players and I note that Ebay recommends you use Immobilise. 

If you are suspicious of ‘Geoff’ you could be really helpful to the police and your local community by anonymously calling CRIMESTOPPERS on 0800 555 111

For further information about mobile phone theft do visit the informative website of the Metropolitan Police  National Mobile Phone Crime Unit , and  The Mobile Industry Crime Action Forum

Finally, do make use of the PIN or other locking system on your phone to reduce the possibility of the thieves accessing the personal data in your phone and you can increase the chances of recovery still further by using one of the approved marking systems described above. (See Methods of property marking and tagging in this section)

Looking after your mobile

I am sometimes amused when I read crime prevention advice given about mobile phones; not because the advice is wrong, but because the advice is so obvious that you would think that even the most brain dead individual wouldn’t need to be told it!   The trouble is that the police are dealing with thousands of thefts and robberies involving mobiles (Cellphones) throughout the year and are at their whit's end on how to get us to do the sensible things.

Here's a selection of the advice statements from police websites

"Don't leave your mobile phone unattended"

Now it seems pretty obvious to anybody that if you leave your phone on the bar while you visit the gents it might not be there when you get back, but thousands go that way!

"Only take your mobile phone out of your pocket or your handbag when you need it"

Once again, pretty obvious advice really, but probably aimed at the posers amongst us; the sort that like to flash their latest gadgets to their mates and then wonder why they get targeted by the robbers waiting outside the pub. 

"Don’t display your mobile phone in an unattended vehicle"

Don’t expect the police to be particularly sympathetic when it’s nicked!

"Avoid using your mobile phone when you exit a railway station or places where large amounts of people are"

Using your phone on exiting a station is exactly one of those times when you would want to use it and so maybe the advice should be rephrased to say "Before you use your mobile on exiting a station or in places where there are large crowds be aware of who’s around you and delay making your call until you feel safe to do so"

"Take care of your phone when at music festivals/concerts" 

I think the advice here should be "Don’t get so drunk at music festivals that you are incapable of looking after yourself and your property!"

The truth is that there are far too many mobiles being stolen and many of them have happened because the victims have been careless in some way.  Don’t forget that for a crime to occur three things have to come together at the same time.  You’ve got to have a thief, a potential victim and, above all, an opportunity.  If we don’t create the opportunities we can greatly reduce the crimes.

See also Personal security, Students, Practising 'Safe Steps' for advice about avoiding problems when you're out and about.

Updated July 2016