According to figures from police obtained by LV= insurance, street muggings and pick pocketing has risen year-on-year since 2010. In the first eight months of 2012, 264 mobile phone thefts were reported every day – an increase of 7 per cent from 2011 figures.
17 per cent of people have had a phone stolen from their bag or pocket. 8 per cent had their phone snatched from their hand as they were using it and 6 per cent were mugged.
Only 1 per cent recovered
While 230,000 street crimes where a mobile phone was stolen have been recorded by police since 2010, only 1 per cent are ever recovered. LV= estimates that the overall number of stolen mobiles is more likely to be 400,000 as four in ten theft victims say they did not report it to police.
LV= says that the average smartphone has a black-market value of more than £400, including downloaded content and paid-for apps. More than half of phone thieves are teenagers - some as young as nine years old - with around 16,500 teens arrested in the past three years across the country.
UK mobile phone theft hotspots include Hyde Park in London.
Although the use of phones for banking and other secure processes is becoming more widespread, 59 per cent of adults do not have password protection.
"We have seen a real shift in theft claims over the past decade with thieves preferring to target small, easily portable items such as mobile phones and gadgets,” said John O'Roarke, MD of LV=.
“The latest smartphones are worth hundreds of pounds on the black market and can be easily sold on, making them particularly attractive to opportunistic thieves. The best way to protect yourself from theft is to use a password on your phone, keep it hidden away when you’re not using it, and ensure your phone is properly insured."