Spate of phone thefts in city centre


Leeds clubbers have fallen victim to organized gangs.

Groups of thieves, wanting to trade stolen mobile phones, have targeted Leeds to steal from students.

West Yorkshire Police say they have seen a rise in the prevalence of organized groups of thieves, who travel from all over the North of England to the city. It is also alleged the phones are being stolen to order and sold in eastern Europe and Asia.

Although the phones can be blocked in the UK, they still work in these destinations.

Anita Cheung, a third year Communications student told Leeds Student: “I was in Canal Mills and put my phone in my sling bag. When I looked down 20-30 minutes later, I noticed my bag was open and my iPhone and camera had been stolen. I reported it to the security guard but it already felt like there was no chance of me ever seeing it again.”

A fourth year student studying English and Spanish had her brand new iPhone 4 stolen in a city centre bar.” I was standing at the bar with my bag across my body, checked and my bag had been unzipped and the phone was gone. I’m very angry.”

Police have noted a rise of 43 per cent in these incidents in the last two years. The city centre appears to be the hotspot, with police suggesting that women under the influence of alcohol are particularly at risk. Over half the offences have occurred in pubs and clubs.

Inspector Richard Clarke, who heads the City Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “Leeds has a vibrant nightlife and clearly students are going to go out and make the most of it. What we are asking them to do is to take sensible precautions… Don’t hang bags on the back of chairs or leave phones or purses lying around on tables. If you’re going to the bar or hitting the dancefloor then make sure you know your things are safe or that a friend is keeping an eye on them”.

Words: Beatrix Passmore

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