Mobile phone makers including Apple, Samsung and BlackBerry have been urged to help reduce phone thefts in the capital.
Mayor Boris Johnson wants the companies to work with police and politicians to help implement “cost effective” technical measures which make it harder to use and sell stolen phones.
He’s written to Apple, BlackBerry, Samsumg, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Google Motorola, HTC and Microsoft on behalf of the London Crime Reduction Board, asking them to play a part in reducing the risk of their customers becoming the victims of theft.
The Mayor’s call comes ahead of a major new crime conference at which he and the political and police leaderships of 15 global cities will meet at City Hall to discuss shared crime concerns.
Official statistics show there was a 12 per cent increase in theft from person offences in the capital last year, despite overall crime falling by 7 per cent. City Hall describes the increase as “troubling” and says almost 75% of such crimes involve the theft of a mobile phone, with around 10,000 handsets stolen each month.
In addition to the distress and financial loss suffered by the victim, such crimes consume “a significant amount of police resources” and have an impact on the insurance industry which must often meet the cost of replacing the handsets.
Officials say the ease of selling handsets overseas is fuelling an international black market for the devices which is of growing concern tp police and city governments both in the UK and abroad.
Speaking ahead of the first Global Policing Conference, Mayor Johnson said: “Smartphone theft is a growing menace not just in London, but throughout cities in the UK and across the developed world.
“We cannot expect the police and criminal justice agencies to tackle this by themselves, manufacturers have to play their part work with us to help us come up with solutions to deter theft and help prevent this crime.”
The conference will take place on 8-9 July at City Hall and will include representatives from 15 cities including Los Angeles, Mumbai, Cape Town, Washington DC, Toronto, Rotterdam, Barcelona, Melbourne, Singapore and Bangkok.
Delegates will discuss a range of topics, including the challenges cities face when they become a key international destination, and the need for policing to adapt to social change and emerging crime threats.
It will be opened on Monday by the Mayor and Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe.