Garda warning as 20 smartphones stolen every day
A high-end mobile phone is now stolen nearly every hour in Ireland.
Twenty smartphones are now stolen on a daily basis across the country - some with a handset value of almost €800.
A garda crackdown on such mobile phone crimes saw the overall rate of thefts fall by 5pc between 2014 and 2015.
But Gardai are worried by the spiralling overall value of the thefts given the soaring individual price of handsets.
It is estimated that €3m worth of smartphones was stolen in Ireland last year with the bulk of thefts occurring in pubs, nightclubs and at festivals.
One woman was arrested in a Cork nightclub last December with four stolen mobile phones hidden in her trousers and socks.
More than 300 mobile phones were stolen in just two days at three major festivals in 2014 including Indiependence in Cork, Spraoi in Waterford and the Pride event in Cork city.
Between 2012 and 2013, the theft of smartphones soared by 33pc across Ireland as thieves were stealing phones to order with Samsung Galaxy and Apple iPhones top of the list.
"It is a combination of phones being stolen to order as well as crimes of opportunity," a Garda National Crime Prevention Unit spokesman said.
"Tens of thousands of people are out socialising and everyone uses their smartphone for photos, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat. So phones are readily accessible to thieves."
Gardai stressed that people often don't take sufficient precautions.
"We have had cases where iPhones were left on pub tables while people queued at the bar for drinks."
Some 20pc of all high-value handset thefts occur between 1am and 3am.