Over one million people hit by mobile phone theft

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The Independent Online

An astonishing 1.3 million people had their mobile phone stolen last year, four times as many as the official crime figures and twice as many as a recent Home Office estimate, new research has found.

The annual mobile phone report, published by Continental Research tomorrow, will show mobile crime is on the increase and afflicts one in every 25 users. The researchers, who conducted exhaustive interviews with consumers, found that for some the statistics are even worse. One in nine people under 25 had their mobile stolen last year, while in London 9 per cent of users suffered phone theft.

The figures will add to clamours for a crackdown on street crime. Last month a Home Office study, which estimated phone thefts were running at double the official figures of 330,000 a year, led David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, to call for tougher sentencing for phone thieves. Continental found more than 4.5 million mobile users have to replace their phones each year because they are lost, stolen or broken. Among common mishaps are dropping your phone into the toilet, suffered by 600,000 a year, and spilling a drink on the phone, which happens to some 400,000.

The research, seen as among the most authoritative, found that for the first time in a decade average monthly spending on mobiles increased. A customer typically spends £18.91 a month on calls, up from £17.60 last year. Five years ago the figure stood at nearly £33 a month. The fall has been due to lower call charges.

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