‘Snatch and run’ mobile phone thieves are targeting clubbers in Shoreditch, warn police.
People with smartphones are being advised to take extra caution when using their mobiles in the street, particularly after dark.
Police say thieves wait for people to come out of bars and clubs in the Shoreditch area and grab the phones while they are being used. Smartphones such as Blackberrys and iPhones are most at risk because of the high resale value of the handsets – a second-hand iPhone can fetch well over £200.
Nicola Wall, 35, a make-up artist from Homerton, had her iPhone stolen outside the Dragon Bar on the corner of Shoreditch High Street and Rivington Street.
She said: “I just stepped outside to use my phone, when out of nowhere somebody swiped it out of my hand. It was all so disorientating that I didn’t even see who did it.
“A bouncer at a bar opposite saw it all happen, and he said they were working in pairs. It’s horrible to think they could have been watching me in the bar.”
A spokesperson from Hackney Police said they aware of a problem with thieves targeting mobile phone users in the Shoreditch area, but denied suggestions that it was gang related.
Police officers are advising that people visiting the area at night be extra vigilant and keep their property hidden at all times.
Chief Inspector Jane Easton of Hackney Police’s Partnership Unit said: “Many robberies happen when people check their phones just after leaving a transport hub. Adults who have consumed alcohol and have less awareness of their surroundings are also more vulnerable.”
Police are taking stronger measures to combat the growing number of mobile phone thefts, including deploying plainclothes officers and utilising CCTV systems.
Smartphone users can also download tracking software that can help locate their phone if it is lost or stolen by using GPS mapping technology.