Mobile theft and accident prevention 

Mobiles are often valuable and can, unfortunately, be a target for thieves.  If used at certain inappropriate times - while crossing the road, for example - mobiles might also result in accidents happening.

What do I need to know about this? 

Hundreds of thousands of mobiles are stolen each year in Europe and, in the UK alone, the Metropolitan Police estimate that 10,000 mobiles are stolen every month and that two thirds of victims are aged between 13 and 16.

While mobiles can help you and your child to stay in contact and feel safer, our own research across five European countries in 2007 showed that mobile theft is one of parents’ main concerns when it comes to getting phones for their kids.

Aside from the emotional impact of being a victim of a crime, having a mobile stolen cuts young people off from their friends and might mean that the thief gets access to their address book, texts, photos and (if their mobile has internet access) things like their social networking profile.

If you’ve kept a note of your mobile’s unique IMEI number, your mobile network operator can block your mobile from being used if it has been stolen. In the UK, companies like Vodafone pass information about stolen mobiles to the GSM Association’s Central Equipment Identity Register so that other networks can prevent your phone being used.

It’s important that you report a theft immediately, as you’re responsible for the cost of any calls or texts made until the theft is reported and the mobile is blocked. If your mobile provider knows your child’s mobile has been stolen, they can activate your child’s number on a replacement SIM card.

As well as mobile theft, you might be worried about your child having an accident while they’re using their phone or another portable device, like an MP3 player. For instance, if they’re walking or cycling, it could be dangerous to text, make a call or listen to music as they will be less alert to what is going on around them. If they’re over 17, they need to understand that it’s illegal to use a hand-held mobile or similar device while driving.

What action can I take? 

As soon as your child gets a new mobile:

Register it with your mobile network provider

Keep a note of the phone number, model, SIM card number and unique IMEI number (press *#06# or look under the battery to find it)

Set up a PIN lock on their keypad (check the manual for instructions)

Keep a backup of their phone address book and other stored content

Get your postcode UV-marked on the handset – some mobile companies offer this service

Make sure their handset is insured

In the UK, register their mobile with the National Property Register at

Talk to your child about the potential risks of mobile theft and accidents

To deter thieves, teach your child to:

Treat their mobile like a wallet or purse and keep it out of sight when they’re out and about

Never leave their mobile unattended

Avoid using it when there’s no-one else around or in big crowds, where they could be distracted

Hand over their mobile if they’re threatened by someone who wants to steal it

To prevent accidents, teach your child to:

Not use their mobile or other portable devices when they’re walking or cycling

Use a hands-free set if possible

Comply with UK laws regarding hand-held mobile devices when they’re driving (if they’re 17+)

If your child’s mobile is stolen:

Report the theft to you mobile network operator (ie Vodafone) immediately

Report the theft to the police and your insurance company too

For free and confidential support following a theft, contact Victim Support in the UK

Mobile Phone Safety video