Midlands Surpasses London as Device Theft Capital – Report

The rate of electronic device theft in Leicestershire and the West Midlands has surpassed that of London, making the Midlands regions the country's worst for such crime according to ViaSat UK.

That’s bad news when it comes to the potential for fraud and data loss, with lost devices such as phones, laptops and tablets presenting a significant threat to the security and privacy of both the personal and corporate data they contain.

ViaSat submitted freedom of information requests to each of the UK’s police forces to build up a picture of the UK’s device-theft hotspots. While capital and largest city London still tops the table in overall thefts, just 27% of these involve a device being nicked. Contrast Leicestershire where 51% of thefts are of electronic devices, or 31% in the West Midlands.

On average, nationally just 19% of incidents involve the theft of computers storing sensitive data.

Responding to the data, Chris McIntosh, CEO ViaSat UK said: “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.

“For many thieves, the most tempting target isn’t necessarily the device itself, but what it contains. 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.”

Some potentially good news, however: overall, rates of device theft in the UK appear to be falling. London’s Met Police saw 37% fewer device thefts in March 2014 to February 2015 than in the preceding 12-month period. Earlier data is not available, however.

 “Any reduction in theft is good news,” McIntosh responded. “However, two years’ worth of data isn’t yet enough to begin drawing conclusions that our streets are getting safer. While we as individuals should do what we can to ensure that data stored on our personal devices is protected to an appropriate level, we need to expect the same level of commitment from those we entrust our data to.”

An earlier FoI request by ViaSat from December 2014 found that Londoners lost a staggering 25,000 devices on the city’s transport network in 2013 alone.

And 2015 research from insurer Protect Your Bubble actually pinpointed Leeds as the UK’s capital of theft, claiming that 28.6% of crimes in the city related to such crimes.

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