FIVE mobile telephones are stolen in Sheffield city centre every day – with the youngest culprits just 13 years old.
Some 1,309 mobile phones were stolen in the city centre between January and September this year, The Star can reveal.
The figure is the highest it has been since 2010 – with records for the last three months of the year still to be added.
The youngest offender dealt with for the crime in Sheffield this year is just 13.
Last year – when 852 mobile phones were stolen in the city centre – the youngest was 15, and in 2010, when 955 phone thefts were reported, the youngest thief arrested was 14.
The numbers, released by South Yorkshire Police, can be revealed as part of The Star’s Your Right To Know campaign, which aims to shine a spotlight on the facts and figures which affect everyday lives.
Inspector Darren Starkey, who leads the Sheffield Central Safer Neighbourhood Teams said: “We are working in partnership with establishments across the city centre to reduce mobile phone theft.”
He said techniques being used included victims being pick pocketed while they were being ‘hugged’; victims being distracted with leaflets; offenders ‘dipping’ into peoples’ bags for their phones and thieves targeting those who had been drinking in the city’s pubs bars and clubs.
He said: “We are particularly seeing these thefts happening at night in the city centre, perhaps when people have had a drink and aren’t as vigilant.
“Victims are also being targeted in the daytime by offenders distracting them with leaflets while they are having a coffee.”
Nationally, in the first eight months of this year, 264 mobile phone handsets were stolen every day in the UK – an increase of seven per cent.
The majority of culprits are in their teens with the youngest in Leicestershire aged just nine.
Insp Starkey said: “If you carry your phone in a bag, keep it closed when you aren’t using it, register your property on a website such as immobilise.com so we can return it to you if we find it and if you have a Smartphone download one of the free tracking apps so it can be recovered should it be stolen.