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Mobile phone thieves are to be targeted in nation-wide scheme to crack down on street crime.

Police have the National Mobile Phone Crime Unit (NMPCU) to target thieves and dealers who ship high-value phones overseas.

Half of all street crime involves the theft of a mobile phone, and almost one third of these crimes involves the theft of just a mobile, police say.

Working with officers throughout the country as well experts from the industry, the NMPCU is to tackle all levels of crime involving phones - from those that steal, handle the gear to those that reprogramme phones and then ship them overseas.

Said Home Office minister Hazel Blears: "Street crime has fallen considerably, but mobile phone theft continues to fuel street robberies in our towns and cities.

"The Government is already working hard with the police and industry to tackle this problem. We helped set up the database of lost and stolen phones, are working with police and the industry on the Immobilise campaign against mobile theft, and have introduced tough legislation to combat mobile phone re-programmers which has penalties of up to five years in jail.

"The National Mobile Phone Crime Unit is the next step in our fight against this crime. It will lead the fight against mobile phone crime by providing specialist advice and intelligence to police forces across the country." ®

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