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MCR Personal Theft Hotspots Revealed

David Blake with the city centre locations to avoid if you like your belongings

Written by . Published on June 27th 2014.

MCR Personal Theft Hotspots Revealed

EARLIER this year we revealed the most likely spots in Manchester city centre to have your bike pinched – it went down like a bicycle thief on an unlocked £5k Pinarello Ultrega.

Theft from a person remains one of the most common forms of crime in the city centre. In the twelve months from May 2013 to April 2014, there were 2,071 reported personal thefts – that’s around 12% of all reported crime in the city centre

So, because we’re good ‘uns and enjoy playing around with the police crime mapping tool, we’re going to continue on this crime stats path and keep you readers vigilant.

The police crime mapping tool helps people make informed decisions on where to live, where to play, where to avoid in the darker hours, where not to leave cars and bikes, where to keep mobiles pocketed, bags zipped and the best spots to pick up drugs.

It could make you bolt up the door and never come out, but remember, over a million people visit the city every year and crime numbers, on the whole, are falling. So don't flap, you're fine and dandy. Mostly. The editor and Blue Badge Guide always goes on about taking thousands of people around the city day and night for something like 18 years and he's never had a single incident related to crime. 

Thieves target Market Street and ArndaleThieves target Market Street and the Arndale centre

The definitions for theft are not entirely black and white. Theft, robbery and burglary are technically different crimes. Here’s a hugely watered down version:

Theft is taking something from somebody else. Robbery is theft with, or with the threat of, violence. Burglary is entering a building with the intent of theft.

Easy enough.

This time we're looking into 'theft from a person' (eg. pickpocketing and bag snatching) in the city centre, that’s ‘covering theft (including attempts) of item or items (e.g. handbag, wallet, cash, phone) directly from the victim, but without the use of physical force against the victim, or the threat of it.’

This category broadly breaks down into two types: ‘stealth theft’ (e.g. pickpocketing), where no force is used and the victim is unaware of the crime, and ‘snatch theft’, where there may be an element of force but only enough to snatch the item away – e.g. bag from a shoulder or phone from a hand. 

According to a Home Office report from July 2013, ‘stealth theft’ accounts for around 70-80% of national personal theft incidents, with mobile phones being the most stolen item accounting for 25% of all thefts.

(Tip: key *#06# into your phone and write down your IMEI number – this means you can block your phone if some git steals it.) Theft from a person remains one of the most common forms of crime in the city centre. In the twelve months from May 2013 to April 2014, there were 2,071 reported personal thefts – that’s around 12% of all reported crime in the city centre (anti-social behaviour tops the list with 31% of all city centre crime).

We've spent days crunching the last twelve months of crime numbers to bring you the places in Manchester to keep a wary eye on your belongings. Here they are:

(By their own admission, the police crime mapping service is not uniformly precise. So the areas we’ve worked to are differential in size and loosely based around a significant place eg. Spinningfields or the Gay Village.)

Reported thefts are in the twelve month period from the beginning of May 2013 to the end of April 2014.

Castlefield, Southern Gateway - 41 (2% of total thefts)

Deansgate Locks - 166 (8%)

MOSI, St John's Gardens, Great Northern (Deansgate S) - 28 (1%)

Spinningfields, Parsonage Gardens - 36 (2%)

Albert Square, Central Library - 122 (6%)

St Ann's, King Street - 74 (4%)

Market Street, Arndale - 254 (12%)

Victoria Station, Printworks, Exchange Square, Shudehill - 131 (6%)

Northern Quarter - 252 (12%)

Piccadilly Gardens - 189 (9%)

Piccadilly, Back Piccadilly - 105 (5%)

Chinatown - 49 (2%)

Gay Village - 242 (12%)

Bridgewater Hall, Oxford Road Station, Palace Theatre - 176 (8%)

University Buildings - 206 (10%)

Northern Quarter is a hotspot for thievesNorthern Quarter has around 12% of thefts from the person

Unsurprisingly then, the route along Market Street, through Piccadilly Gardens and on to Piccadilly Station is fraught with sticky-fingers, with a combined total of 548 in twelve months (accounting for 26% of all city centre thefts from a person).

The Northern Quarter comes in a very close second to Market Street and Arndale (254), with 252 thefts, next is the Gay Village with 242, while the University area comes in with 206.

The safest place for your belongings is in the west of the city centre, with only 105 thefts in the entire area covering Castlefield and the Southern Gateway, the MOSI, St John's Gardens, Great Northern, Spinningfields and Parsonage Gardens - only 5% of all city centre personal thefts. Meaning you are 2.5 times more likely to fall victim to theft from a person in, say, the Northen Quarter.

Chinatown came out surprisingly well, wedged between Piccadilly Gardens (189 thefts), the Gay Village (242) and Albert Square and Central Library (122), there were only 49 personal thefts in the whole twelve months.

In terms of months, unsurprisingly December 2013 saw the most activity with 219 thefts, since then there's been a steady decline, with 152 in January, 155 in February, 127 in March and 125 in April 2014.

Below is a hotspot map - what you could call a rough 'where not to leave your pockets wide open or bag unattended' map of Manchester city centre.

Manchester city centre personal theft hotspotsManchester city centre personal theft hotspots

In 2013, Greater Manchester Police revealed that more than eight mobiles a day are stolen in the city centre. In 2012, a man was jailed for two years after police snagged him with 40 mobile phones bunged down a pair of tights worn beneath his jeans – we’ve heard about stuffing a pair of socks down, but 40 mobile phones is excessive.

Chief Inspector Gareth Parkin said: “As the popularity of smartphones rises, so too do the number of thefts but many victims seem unaware as to just how much their phone is worth.

“You wouldn’t walk around waving £500 in the air or leave a wad of cash on the table while having a coffee but this is exactly what people are doing with their phones.

“Be aware of your surroundings, keep your bag in view and don’t lend your phone to a stranger. Use a pin or password to protect your phone and avoid keeping personal information that could be used by criminals to commit fraud on the handset.

Thefts from a person are in a steady decline (notice the peak in December 2013)Thefts from a person look to be in steady decline (notice the peak in December 2013)

And it's not only the petty crooks that are after your belongings.

“It’s not just opportunist low level thieves that are stealing phones," Parkin continued. "There are gangs that are working together targeting busy city centre venues or large scale events. Some of them will travel from afar to specifically target Manchester because they know how busy it is.

"Offenders use an array of different tactics to prey on their victims. Some use distraction techniques such as hugging or asking for directions while others will place a newspaper on top of a phone and swipe it right underneath their victim’s eyes.

“Exporting stolen phones abroad is a very lucrative business and I have no doubt that the money made will be being used to fund further criminal activity. We have made some significant arrests and plain clothed officers are regularly patrolling hotspot areas to disrupt offenders but we need the public’s help to make life harder for thieves.”

How we compare:

Liverpool - 1563

Leeds - 2123

Bags around the back are an easy targetBags around the back are an easy target

To report a crime or suspicious activity call Greater Manchester Police on 101. In an emergency, where there is a threat to life or property, call 999. To pass on information anonymously call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111

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7 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousJune 27th 2014.

Er - isn't that just a map of footfall (number of people per area). You're not less likely to be robbed in Castlefield there are just less people than Market Street

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJune 27th 2014.

That logic doesn't truly work either. There are over 18,000 people employed in Spinningfields alone and Deansgate is one of the city's busiest streets yet those two areas combined only account for 3% of the total.

AnonymousJune 30th 2014.

To above, Market Street and the NQ are far busier than Spinningfields and even Deansgate, Spinningfields especially is very quiet most of the time.

AnonymousJune 27th 2014.

The comparison doesnt really work either becasue it doesnt account for population size, manc looks worse than liverpool but has way more people so probably less crime per head.

AnonymousJune 28th 2014.

It's a busy city centre there will always be thefts. Be just need be be careful they'll be fine.

AnonymousJune 30th 2014.

My phone was stolen from my hand on Market St, and the little bastard (about 18) actually stalked me - in my wheelchair - to wait for an opportunity.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJune 30th 2014.

Oh gosh that's horrible, I'm sorry that happened to you. Did you get anywhere with reporting it?

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