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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 May 2007, 14:53 GMT 15:53 UK
Number of mobile thefts revealed
A mobile phone
Mobile phones are now a common part of modern life
About 800,000 people were the victim of mobile telephone theft in England and Wales last year, new government figures have suggested.

Children and young adults are most likely to suffer a mobile phone theft, according to the British Crime Survey.

In almost seven out of 10 cases overall, the handset was stolen while it was left unattended by the owner.

This is the first time the Home Office has published figures for the number of people affected by this type of crime.

The research shows that less than half of all victims - 49% - said they had reported the theft to the police.

The age group from 12 to 15 was the worst affected, with 5% reporting mobile thefts.

Established item

A Home Office spokesman said: "Crime has fallen by 35% in the last 10 years and we are working hard to drive it down further.

"Mobile phones are an established part of everyday life and we are working closely with the industry to make them less attractive to criminals."

The spokesman added that legislation on "reprogramming" stolen phones had also been tightened.

Figures released from the mobile phone sector earlier this year showed 90% of handsets reported stolen were now barred from all networks within 48 hours.

But shadow home secretary David Davis accused the government of complacency.

"These alarming statistics betray a high level of robbery amongst young people," he said.

"Clear problems are being stored up for the future yet the government's complacency is shocking."

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