Phone theft victims ridicule Met Police's plea for industry to help

Mobile phone theft victims ridicule Met Police Commissioner’s plea for the industry to do more – as they claim officers have ‘done nothing’ to solve crimes themselves

  • Users on Twitter share stories of their stolen devices with Met unable to help
  • Around 91,000 phone thefts recorded across the capital in 2022

Met Police commissioner Sir Mark Rowley and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s call on the mobile industry was met with ridicule as people claim the Met have ‘done nothing’ to solve mobile thefts themselves.

Coinciding with Rowley and Khan’s visit to Ealing to see ‘intelligence-led, targeted police activity,’ they urged the mobile phone providers and manufacturers to work with City Hall and the Met.

The Met’s tweet on the subject prompted an abundance of replies and quote tweets from people sharing stories of the Met, and other police stations, being unable or unwilling to assist them in matters of stolen devices.

This is despite many of them bringing GPS tracking info, such as Find My iPhone, directly to the police regarding their stolen devices. 

Many of the people who responded mentioned that their case was closed almost immediately, despite having location-based data.

Khan and Rowley in Ealing together to see the ‘intelligence-led, targeted police activity’ taking place across the city

Commissioner Rowley referenced car manufacturers who worked with police to substantially reduce the thefts of car radios and sat navs by integrating them into vehicle dashboards. 

Met Commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, said: ‘The current practice of allowing stolen mobiles to be re-registered by new users within the phone industry inadvertently enables a criminal market which drives robbery, thefts and violent offending in London.

‘We need partners to step up to the plate and work alongside us to break this cycle of violence fuelled by the ability of mobile phones to be re-purposed and sold on in this way.

Although some on Twitter were quick to point out that such an example isn’t exactly comparable to phones, and the equivalent would be if users had their mobile phones integrated into them.

A Twitter user who tracked down their e-bike using an AirTag, but police were still unable to assist

A user who, months after them being stolen, can still see his AirPods using Apple’s Find My app

One Twitter user said: ‘My iPhone was snatched from my hand in South Kensington. An hour later Find my iPhone showed it at an address in North London. The @metpoliceuk said they could do nothing about it as they couldn’t 100% prove which address it was at.’

Another user tweeted : ‘Got mugged last month, had Find My iPhone set up and it was found at a phone shop. 

‘But the Met said they don’t look at locations and closed the case. My phone then went via Heathrow to China, most likely part of a wider criminal network police could have stopped but chose not to.’

A user with stolen AirPods, and police who did nothing despite seeing the perpetrators

Someone’s stolen phone that has ended up in Dubai; their case was immediately closed by police when they lodged the crime

Earlier this year data was shown that revealed around 91,000 phone thefts were recorded across the capital in 2022, but fewer than 2,000 were returned to their owners, prompting many to label it a ‘crime that goes unpunished’.

At the time, HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary Andy Cooke attributed the number of unsolved offences to ‘missed opportunities’ from increasingly inexperienced investigators.

The figure led people to say that their trust in the police to tackle the issue has become ‘non-existent’, and prompting civilians to step in and handle such thefts themselves.

A spokesperson for the Met, when asked about their ability to use such data in retrieving stolen devices, said: 

‘The use of such apps alone, without further information or intelligence, is not enough to secure a warrant, given they are not completely reliable – especially in residential blocks where there may be scores of addresses.

‘Every case will have a unique set of circumstances and these will be reviewed before any decision is made on whether an investigation is closed.’ 

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