More than 12,000 mobile phones, worth an estimated €5m, were reported stolen in 2012.

Gardaí say high-value smartphones are being specifically targeted by criminal gangs.

More than 1,000 mobile phones are stolen each month and the vast majority are smartphones.

The figure is more than 33% higher than the number of phone thefts reported in 2011.

While criminal gangs are targeting valuable high-end phones, gardaí are advising all phone users to be vigilant.

As well as practical measures, such as never leaving a phone in an empty car and avoiding making calls while crossing the street, gardaí say people should be proactive about preventing phone theft.

They say users should register their devices with their service provider and take note of identifying features, such as the IMEI number.

They also advise people to enable the PIN security feature on their mobiles and keep them locked at all times.

Consumers are advised to immediately report any stolen phone to gardaí and their service provider.

Detectives say they have introduced specific measures to target mobile phone theft.

They said they have arrested more than 1,000 people in Dublin over the past 12 months.

Sergeant Alan Roughneen said: "If you find a mobile phone for sale at a price that's particularly low, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

"Some of the intelligence we have suggests that a lot of the phones are going abroad."