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Britain’s device-theft capital is now … lovely Leicestershire

Come on London’s ne'er-do-wells, up your game

Leicestershire – slap-bang in the middle of rural England – has leapfrogged London as the UK’s electronic device-theft capital, according to a comparison of police force stats.

A series of FoI (Freedom of Information) requests by ViaSat showed 51 per cent of thefts in Leicestershire were of electronic devices, compared with 27 per cent in London and 19 per cent nationwide.

The stats covered reports of the theft of devices such as computers, smartphones and tablets that could store sensitive personal information. Electronic kit accounted for 31 per cent of thefts reported to West Midlands Police.

Similar research from last year revealed that London was the undisputed champion of device thefts by number and proportion. ViaSat concludes that other areas of the country outside London are no longer the safe havens they once seemed.

“Whether a corporate smartphone, a personal tablet, or your bank manager’s laptop, there is a huge amount of information stored on electronic devices that can compromise our privacy,” said Chris McIntosh, chief exec of ViaSat UK.

“The simple fact is that, for many thieves, the most tempting target isn’t necessarily the device itself, but what it contains," he added. "From access to your bank records, to blackmail, to flat-out identity theft, a lost or stolen device can still damage its owner long after it’s stolen."

Combined data from the Metropolitan and City of London police forces showed that thefts of electronic devices had fallen 37 per cent from the number reported last year to the Metropolitan Police alone.

Nationwide, there was a 34 per cent fall. This coincided with a drop in the number of thefts in total, which fell by 20 per cent in London and 24 per cent nationwide.

McIntosh cautioned: “Two years’ worth of data isn’t yet enough to begin drawing conclusions that our streets are getting safer.”

Total thefts of relevant electronic equipment reported nationwide in the year to 28 February 2015 was 193,210, compared with 290,651 last year.

The total number of thefts of relevant electronic equipment reported by London police in the 2015 study was 77,243 out of a total of all thefts reported to Metropolitan and City of London Police of 285,312.

Total thefts reported nationwide in the 12 months leading up to the end of February 2015 was 1,031,632, compared with 1,350,434 in the 2014 study. ®

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