Mobile phone thefts from bars in Leicester are down after gangs targeted
The number of mobile phone thefts in Leicester has reduced after police targeted gangs stealing from customers in bars and clubs.
Patrols were stepped up after thieves stole 18 phones from people at licensed premises in the final weekend of January, and 16, 24 and 13 phones in the first three weekends of February.
Officers said they would normally expect five thefts at city centre venues in a weekend.
This weekend, the number fell to four thefts after extra officers went into venues to speak to revellers about how to protect their phones, monitored CCTV and carried out plain-clothes patrols.
Pc Tejas Mavani, of the licensing unit, said: "The significant reduction this weekend is a great success, but we want to continue to drive those figures down.
"We have worked in partnership with Citywatch and security staff, who have been great in helping us to identify suspects and potential thieves.
"We have carried out extensive work with bars and clubs to raise awareness of the potential for phone thefts.
"However, we still want members of the public to help us and would urge people to think about the security of their belongings.
"It may only seem like a petty crime to some people, but phones aren't cheap and many of them hold personal and sentimental information and images, so it really is upsetting for the victims when they are taken."
He urged people to keep their phone in a zipped bag or pocket and keep it with them at all times.
Pc Mavani also suggested switching on the phone's built-in GPS tracking system to help officers locate it if it is stolen.
Criminal gangs travelling to Leicester from other parts of the country have been blamed for the spike in mobile phone thefts from clubs and bars.
"We will continue to do all we can to bring those responsible to justice," Pc Mavani said.
"I hope all the action we have taken so far will reassure members of the public
"I hope it sends a clear message to anyone thinking about stealing a phone that we are out there and they will be caught."
So far, six people – most from the West Midlands and Northampton – have been arrested in connection with incidents of theft.
All have been released on police bail pending further inquiries.
Graham Collins, from Citywatch said venues and the police had been working together to bring about a reduction in thefts.
He said: "The phone owners must do their bit to prevent any thefts and not leave the phones on show."