Fear of crime proves a turn-off for thousands of gadget-users

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FEARS over thefts of portable gadgets such as mobile phones and tablets deter almost a quarter of Scots from using such devices in public.

A total of 57 per cent of tablet owners say they never use their iPads or similar tablets in a public place, while 44 per cent of mobile phone users also insist on using their handset only in private.

The survey of gadget owners revealed that a third of Scots who keep their portable gadgets hidden while out in public places, do so because they are scared of being targeted by thieves.

However, more than a third of gadget users in Scotland say they feel safe or very safe carrying portable devices.

“Handheld devices like mobile phones and tablets are easy pickings for gadget thieves because they’re conveniently small and victims are likely to be distracted,” said Stephen Ebbett, director of Protect Your Bubble, which carried out the survey.

“But think about it like this – if you stand on the street waving £500 cash around you’re asking for trouble, so why do it with your gadgets?

“People need to exercise the same level of caution.

“If you need to make a phone call, do it in a place where you can see what’s going on around you. And when your phone isn’t being used, keep it safe and out of sight in a zipped-up pocket or bag.”

When asked how gadget theft should be stemmed, a quarter of people said they believe the answer is to stop using handheld devices in public altogether – despite having forked out hundreds of pounds for “portable” gadgets.

Another 9 per cent said they believe that people should only buy cheap gadgets that are easily replaced.

Meanwhile, only 7 per cent would like to see harsher sentences for gadget thieves and only 10 per cent believe more police officers on Scottish streets would cause incidents of mobile and tablet theft to decrease.Kate Murphy, spokeswoman for MoneySupermarket.com, said: “The increasing popularity of smartphone and tablet devices means we are able to stay connected on the move – an opportunist thief’s dream.

“As more and more gadgets flood the market thefts of this nature will continue to rise; however, this shouldn’t stop people from using their gadgets away from the home.

“Being extra-vigilant by considering your surroundings as well as keeping your gadget safe in a secure bag when not in use should be enough to deter an opportunist from running away with your device.”

HOW TO PLAY SAFE

• Never leave your gadgets unattended in public spaces, or in open view in a vehicle.

• Keep a record of your phone’s International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) code and register

it at www.immobilise.com, the UK National Property Register. It’s free and could help you get your property back.

• If you have an iPad or iPhone, enable the “find my iPhone” or “find my iPad” feature, which uses GPS mapping technology to locate a missing iOS device. If you have an Android phone, you can download “Find My Droid” from the Google Play Store.

• Never store any sensitive information such as bank account numbers or passwords on your gadgets.

• Report the theft to your network so that you’re not liable for any charges a thief might run up.

Source: Kate Murphy, mobiles expert at MoneySupermarket

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