Professional thieves target Leicester venues to take phones
A gang of professional thieves stole 18 mobile phones from pubs and clubs in Leicester last weekend.
Officers, who would normally expect four or five such thefts inside city centre venues in the course of a weekend, believe thieves deliberately targeted a number of city centre venues.
Pc Tejas Mavani, of city police's licensing unit, said: "It was a busy weekend in the city centre with many students celebrating the end of exams and graduation ceremonies.
"In the majority of cases the mobile phone has either been taken from a handbag left unattended or snatched from a table inside a pub or club.
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"Due to the amount stolen, it would appear that this was a targeted effort by thieves."
Sheena Dattani, 23, of the city's Abbey Lane area, lost her wallet and iPhone in Fat Cat bar in Belvoir Street, on Friday night.
She said: "My phone was inside my wallet and they were taken within an hour of us getting there.
"I think they must have been watching me as my phone and my wallet were in a bag.
"We rang the phone and we knew they were still in the same bar because we could hear the music.
"They only said 'hello' each time and then hung up. They obviously knew what they were doing because they then disabled the GP tracker on the phone.
"There is a lot of personal information on my phone, including personal banking stuff, text messages and Facebook and Twitter."
Police officers are studying CCTV footage from last weekend in an attempt to identify the thieves.
They are also working with crime prevention group Citywatch – whose members include many of the city's pubs and clubs – to encourage people to protect their property.
Pc Mavani said: "The latest smart phones can cost hundreds of pounds and yet people don't think twice about leaving them on tables or inside a handbag left unattended. You wouldn't leave £500 in cash lying about, so please don't leave your mobile phone on show.
"If possible, you should keep your phone on you at all times in a zipped pocket or handbag.
"I also urge people to switch on built-in GPS tracking systems to help police locate their phone should it be stolen."
Mark Williamson, of Citywatch, said: "We have a network of 60 bars and clubs linked to each other and to the city's CCTV room.
"If any of our members spot thieves at work we will report it immediately, and there is a good chance they will be caught on video.
"Within hours we can have police, store detectives and bar staff from across the city looking to identify the offender."
People can download GPS tracking applications for their phones. These enable police to trace the exact location of the stolen handset.
Phones and other valuables can also be registered with a national database which enables police to track the owners of recovered stolen property.
To register property, visit: