Study: West Midlands Phone Theft Hotspots Revealed

Over the past year, the West Midlands has seen a huge increase in mobile phone theft. From 2021 to 2022, the number of phones stolen in Birmingham more than doubled.

Every year, more than 5000 phones are stolen in the West Midlands by pickpockets, drive-by snatchers, and thieves taking advantage of unsuspecting pub-goers.

This raises the question – where are the West Midlands’ phone theft hotspots? Where do you need to be careful to avoid having your phone stolen?

West Midlands phone theft study

To find out where you’re most likely to have your phone stolen in Birmingham and its surrounds, we made a freedom of information request to West Midlands Police.

We obtained data on the total number of phones stolen from the person in each West Midlands Neighbourhood Policing Unit (NPU) in 2022.

Complete data

RankNeighbourhood Policing Unit (NPU)Phones stolen in 2022
#1Birmingham West2312
#2Birmingham East838

Phone theft hot-spots

West Midlands phone theft hotspots.

The places you’re most likely to have your phone stolen in Birmingham are:

1. Birmingham West, including Birmingham City Centre, Edgbaston, and Small Heath

The Birmingham West Neighbourhood Policing Unit (NPU) is by far the biggest phone theft hotspot in the West Midlands, with nearly triple the number of phones stolen compared to the next-biggest hotspot.

As home to a large number of pubs and nightclubs in the city centre, especially along Westside and Broad Street, the high number of stolen phones in this area is likely a result of thefts from unsuspecting bar patrons. Thieves commonly target phones left on tables, especially in busy pubs and nightclubs.

Also, in Birmingham’s city centre, phone snatching from pedestrians is more common than anywhere else in the West Midlands. In urban areas, criminal gangs operating on mopeds and bikes will target people standing and texting by the side of the road, grabbing their phones out of their hands while the victim is distracted.

2. Birmingham East, including Sparkbrook, Moseley & Kings Heath, Bordesley Green, and Sutton

As another more densely-populated area, you should also be careful to avoid having your phone stolen in Birmingham East.

Although the Bullring and most of Birmingham’s busy shopping precincts are located in Birmingham West, Birmingham East still has plenty of commercial areas with high foot traffic, especially on weekends. These busy high streets and shops are a prime target for pickpockets looking to steal phones from unsuspecting shoppers.

The remainder of crimes reported in this region are likely thefts of phones left unattended on trains, as well as the occasional snatching by thieves on mopeds and bikes.

Phone theft not-spots

The places you’re least likely to have your phone stolen in the West Midlands are Wolverhampton and Walsall.

As less densely-populated areas with less nightlife, there are fewer opportunities for thieves to steal phones in these regions. There are fewer busy shopping districts with large crowds, and fewer pubs and clubs in these areas. Also, these regions have a lower overall crime rate than Birmingham and its surrounds.

However, this isn’t to say that you should be less careful about having your phone stolen if you live in a less densely-populated area in the West Midlands. As early as last month there were reports of gangs snatching phones from pedestrians in Wolverhampton.

How to prevent your phone from being stolen in the West Midlands

No matter where you are in the West Midlands, there are a number of things you should do to prevent your phone from being stolen.

  • Never leave your phone unattended in a public space, such as on a train seat or restaurant table, and never leave your device out of sight.
  • Avoid keeping your phone in your back pocket, especially if you don’t have deep pockets. Use a front pocket if you have one, or keep your phone deep within your backpack or purse.
  • In busy areas, be wary of people brushing up against you – they could be pickpockets.
  • Avoid texting while standing on the pavement, such as when waiting to cross the road.
  • Avoid texting while walking – this makes it easier for people to snatch your phone, as you’re much less aware of what’s going on around you.
  • If you do need to pull your phone out on the pavement, be wary of bikes and mopeds nearby.

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