Thousands of mobile devices are stolen on UK trains every year, with the number soaring 62% over the past two years, according to new Freedom of Information (FOI) data.

Absolute Software submitted the FOI requests to the British Transport Police (BTP), which covers the entire rail network including regional light railways such as the London Underground, Docklands Light Railway, the Midlands Metro tram system, Croydon Tramlink, Tyne and Wear Metro and Glasgow Subway.

It claims that 8.6 million travellers use these networks every day. However, the chances of them having a mobile device stolen whilst using the train appear to be increasing.

The number of devices that went missing over the last two calendar years jumped from 5516 reported instances in 2018, to 8918 last year.

Most common was the “mobile phone and accessories” category, which accounted for 11,460 thefts over the period. Incidents jumped from 4207 in 2018 to 7253 in 2019, an increase of 72%.

Next came “laptops, tablets, and personal digital assistants,” of which 2974 were stolen in the last two calendar years: 1309 in 2018, and 1665 in 2019, an increase of 27%.

Andy Harcup, VP at Absolute Software, argued that commuters are “sending all the wrong signals” to rail thieves.

“With the rise of flexible and remote working, many of these devices will contain critical workplace data and confidential company information that could easily fall into the hands of malicious fraudsters,” he warned.

“Tackling this issue requires rail users to be vigilant against opportunist thieves, as well as companies doing much more to protect and secure all company devices. Key to this effort is incorporating endpoint cybersecurity software, so their vulnerabilities are self-healing, resilient and can be remotely tracked and frozen if they end up in the wrong hands.”

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