Thursday, 25 October 2007

Mobile Phone crime

Last week I went to a talk about mobile phone theft and misuse of electronic services, given by Shaun Whitehead from the Criminology and Criminal Justice centre at Loughborough University. There were lots of questions so he only managed to get through the mobile phone part of his research, but I thought some of his points were really interesting for Alertme customers.

You may know that there is a staggering amount of mobile phone theft in the UK - the most recent British Crime Survey (reported here by Halifax building society) reported that two MILLION mobile phones were stolen last year. Shaun and his colleague Jen Mailley have investigated ways of reducing this crime wave, by combining traditional criminology with modern technology.

One of the first things they did was to interview convicted phone thieves. Although most thefts are opportunistic, it turns out that thieves are keenly aware of risk and reward, just like everyone else. When they see an opportunity, they judge carefully whether it is worth the risk. Increase the risk to them, and the reward becomes less attractive. Another thing Shaun and Jen did was to look at ways of reducing those opportunities - if no opportunity presents itself, most thieves won't risk trying to create one.

Alertme helps protect your home in both ways. We give you some easy-to-spot (and rather smart) window stickers, so that potential thieves will have to factor in an increased risk to themselves. We can also warn you as you leave your house if you have left windows or doors open, helping you avoid giving thieves a chance.

Shaun's closing point put a great twist on the story. Phone insurance policies tend not to cover accidental damage or loss. That means that when someone has a problem with their phone, they've got to stump up for a new one, even though they've been paying to insure it. Although nobody can be sure, people who've studied the problem think that a lot of those 'stolen' phones actually went in the bin!