Fans of the latest shiny Apple products may need to keep an extra-sharp eye on their mobile phones when they're out and about, as gadgets from the manufacturer top the list of the UK's most-commonly swiped handsets.
This is according to new figures from the Home Office, which revealed the top four spots in the table are all taken up by Apple devices. The iPhone 5 was the most popular target for thieves, followed by the 5c, 5s and 4s. The most-frequently stolen non-Apple product was BlackBerry's 9790.
In fact, the government's figures revealed that in London, 55 per cent of all mobile phone thefts between August 2012 and January this year involved an Apple model – despite the fact the brand only accounts for around 15 per cent of the market. Samsung models, by contrast, were only targeted in 15 per cent of thefts, even though the company's handsets make up 24 per cent of the market.
The government observed there are several factors that make certain handsets more attractive to thieves. These include the overall desirability of the phone itself, the ease of access to valuable personal data stored on it, and the perceived risk of the phone being tracked once it has been stolen.
Home secretary Theresa May claimed that overall levels of crime have fallen under the current government, though she acknowledged phone thefts are a problem for many people.
"The level of mobile phone theft remains a concern and people are increasingly carrying their lives in their pockets, with bank details, emails and other sensitive personal information easily accessible through mobile phones," she said. "This is why it is vital that government, police and industry work together to tackle this crime."
It's not all doom and gloom, however, as the Home Office's paper highlighted a range of new security features that have had great success in reducing the number of smartphone thefts.
For instance, new improvements included with iOS 7 were shown to make a significant difference. Although the overall number of thefts of Apple devices went up immediately after the release of the new operating system – which is to be expected when new innovations are launched – there was a much steeper fall in the number of thefts than normal in the following days.
The paper also praised the efforts made by the major phone manufacturers to make their devices less attractive to thieves. These include features that can remotely wipe a device of personal data, protect the handset with more secure login features, and tools that can trace the location of a stolen gadget.
Tips for users
While phones are more secure than ever, it's still up to individual users to take steps to make sure they don't fall victim to a theft – and if they do, they aren't compromising potentially valuable personal information.
It found people are most likely to have their phone stolen directly from their person – such as through pick-pocketing – or when their device is left briefly unattended, such as at a table in a bar. It also showed 14 to 24-year-olds and particularly women are more likely than any other group to be victims of mobile phone theft, so these individuals may need to keep a particularly close eye on their gadgets when they're out and about.
Bars, cafes, coffee shops, restaurants and music venues were all identified as favoured hunting grounds for mobile phone thieves, so people should be particularly wary in these locations – no matter how tempting it may be to flaunt your shiny new gadget for everyone
Other things people can do to ensure they do not become a victim include setting a strong PIN to prevent a phone being used if stolen. A good password is essential here, as something like 1234 won't cut it.
The Home Office paper also advised users to install a tracking app if their phone does not have one already and register their device at immobilise.com, which will allow the police to track down the rightful owner should it be recovered.
Ms May observed that when combined with actions taken by the industry and police, this can greatly crack down on a problem that affected thousands of people throughout the UK every year.
"It is encouraging to see that these security improvements have contributed to recorded theft from the person falling by ten per cent in the last year, according to the most recent crime statistics," she said.