ALMOST 6,000 smartphones were snatched by thieves since January -- a 20pc increase on the same period last year.
Gardai are highly concerned at the spate of mobile phone theft across the country with expensive devices being stolen and resold within minutes.
New figures reveal that some 5,989 incidents of mobile phone thefts were recorded by gardai since January.
And some insurance firms have reported that more than 90pc of their customers' claims relate specifically to smartphones worth hundreds of euro.
The figures are reported just months after the Herald revealed how gardai in the city have been left astounded at the manner in which the thefts are being carried out.
The Herald revealed that gangs are using threats and violence in order to steal the devices.
The average value of the smartphones stolen this year was €250.
Thieves are specifically targeting phones valued at the high end of the market and then reselling them within minutes.
And insurance firms have admitted that a huge majority of claims by their customers relate to expensive smart phones.
Gadgetinsurance.ie reported that 91pc of claims were made by those who had their phones stolen.
And according to a spokesperson, some 82pc of these claims related specifically to iPhones.
Another insurance company, Chill.ie, said there was a 50/50 split between iPhone theft and theft of other high-end smartphones.
Other popular devices that are being snatched in large numbers include the popular Samsung Galaxy.
Victims of phone theft have reported being targeted by individuals riding push bikes who snatch the phone from their hand before fleeing the scene.
The devices are then wiped of all data and can be sold to electronic shops.
A Herald investigation last year revealed that some shops in the capital were willing to pay €150 for a second hand iPhone.
Gardai have advised mobile phone users to keep their devices out of view and to avoid making calls and texting when crossing the road.
The Garda National Crime Prevention Unit has issued guidelines which advise users to have their back to a wall or window when making calls.
And the guidelines urge smartphone owners to download applications that can locate a stolen or lost device.