Published: Monday, 11th March 2024

The Royal Borough of Greenwich and local police are cracking down on mobile phone thefts, after catching multiple serial phone thieves over the past couple of months.

Unfortunately, phone theft is on the rise in Royal Greenwich. In the past year there have been 1,432 thefts and robberies involving a mobile phone.

To tackle the problem, and to ensure that everyone in Greenwich is safer and feels safer, the Council has been working with the Met, who have increased patrols in high crime areas around Greenwich University and the Cutty Sark. The Council looked at CCTV coverage, lighting of the areas, visitor flow, and from which directions perpetrators arrive and leave the area. This information was fed back to the police to help with their ongoing investigations.

Photo of a pavement chalk stencil which reads 'Don't look at this. Look out for thieves instead.'

'Don’t look at this. Look out for thieves instead' awareness campaign

The Council, in collaboration with the Metropolitan Police, also recently ran an awareness campaign with chalk stencils which said ‘Don’t look at this. Look out for thieves instead’ displayed around Greenwich Town Centre in ‘crime hotspots’. This raised awareness of the recent increase of mobile phone thefts and robberies in these areas. At recent community engagement events, we received successful feedback on the campaign. Residents said that it made them more aware of their surroundings when out.

The Council has organised multiple community engagement events at the Cutty Sark, sharing information about bike and phone theft prevention with residents, visitors and tourists.

This collaborative work has led to a spate of arrests for phone theft in the borough. Five men, aged between 20 and 50, were arrested last month after a hoard of stolen mobile phones were found in a property in Brockley following thefts across Royal Greenwich, Lewisham and Southwark.

During the search, police officers discovered multiple bags containing hundreds of phones wrapped in foil. Police officers believe that many of the seized phones belong to students or visiting tourists.

A photo of hundreds of phones wrapped in plastic bags

During a search police officers discovered multiple bags containing hundreds of phones

In another case, two teenagers aged 14 and 15 were arrested after a spree of mobile phone thefts were reported around Greenwich Park and the O2 Arena. The criminals snatched phones from people’s hands while they were riding on e-bikes. Officers quickly attended the scene and searched the area, recovering seven phones, three of which have already been returned to their owners.

Councillor Ann-Marie Cousins, Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Enforcement said:

“Phone theft is unfortunately on the rise, but our Council officers and the police are working together to locate and arrest perpetrators across the borough.

These examples of quick-thinking police work and arrests will hopefully send out a message to thieves that they will not be able to get away with it and will be prosecuted.”

If you have something stolen from you or see a robbery take place, call 999.

If you have any information on robbery or theft which has happened in the past, you can tell the police what you know 100% anonymously at