Police warning over mobile phone theft

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The Independent Online

Public transport users make easy prey for robbers when they are distracted by their mobile phones as they get off trains and buses, police warned today.

Senior officers said travellers were often oblivious of their surroundings as they focused on new messages and voicemail as they emerged on to the pavement.

They urged people to take simple measures to keep themselves safe and their valuables secure after the holiday season.

Commander Simon Pountain, of the Metropolitan Police, said smart phones and MP3 players were "must have" items for consumers and crooks.

Standing outside Lambeth North Tube station today, in south London, he said he was shocked at the number of people wandering about with valuable goods on show.

Mr Pountain said: "We want to make people aware of their surroundings and to take responsibility for their property.

"We see a lot of people distracted by their phone going off in the street, particularly when they are coming out of a Tube station.

"We are all busy people, often trying to do two things at once, but it is plain to see how easy it becomes for people to become a victim."

Police in the capital have stepped up patrols in robbery hotspots in a bid to slow an anticipated January rise in muggings.

There were 24,264 robberies in London between April and October last year, with more than a third (36%) of victims aged 19 or younger.

A police poster campaign will focus on railway stations and transport hubs in Brent, Southwark, Lewisham, Lambeth, Newham and Waltham Forest.