It seems mobile phone owners can often be neatly divided into two categories: 1. Those who have never lost/had their phone stolen and 2. Those who can't seem to keep hold of their handset for more than a few months at a time. Well, both may be more connected than you might think...
According to CheckMEND, the online stolen property checking service, there is now an estimated £5 billion worth of stolen goods on sale over the Internet at any one time in the UK and up to £2.6bn of that is estimated to come from mobile phones. So category one owners, where did you purchase your mobile? Chances are it may have come from the misfortune of category two!
Breaking these numbers down reveals public suspicion is also skyrocketing. Of all the enquiries CheckMEND says were carried out on its site over the last 18 months, 67 per cent (which equates to a massive 6,700,000) were to check the IMEI number of a mobile phone. The total number of product checks since CheckMEND launched in 2006 is 10 million.
The problem, the site believes, lies in the 'faceless' nature of most mobile phone sales - especially through online marketplaces such as eBay and the new phenomenon of 'Market Places' on social networks such as Facebook. Combined with the ongoing credit crunch, many users are also looking for bargains and unconsciously fuelling the demand for stolen goods.
So where is the town where you're most likely to be sold a stolen mobile? CheckMEND says it's Leicester (don't mention the football) - perhaps a slightly surprising answer given Sunderland's remarkable technological adoption (I knew I'd get that bitchy comment in eventually).
More worryingly, with stunners like Apple's 3G iPhone/iPhone Black, the BlackBerry Bold and Touch Diamond all inching ever closer to release this problem is likely to get worse before it gets better... Keep alert people.