Mobile phones worth around €5m were stolen in Ireland over the last 20 months.

Gardaí received reports of 11,488 mobile phones being stolen between January 2019 and August 2020, which equates to around 135 phones every week.

The figures were compiled by An Garda Síochána's Analysis Service.

The garda divisions in Dublin accounted for the highest number of stolen phones, with 2,868 phones taken in the DMR South Central Division alone.

There were 1,869 phones reported stolen in the DMR North Central Division during that period, according to the figures.

The garda divisions of Limerick, Kildare, Galway and Cork city also recorded a high number of stolen handsets.

The figures show that out of the over 11,488 phones stolen, only 1,176 or 10% have been recovered.

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Gardaí are launching a campaign today to encourage people to download and activate a trusted location finder app so if their phone is lost or stolen, there have a better chance of getting it back.

Crime Prevention Officer in Co Meath Sergeant Dean Kerins said the price of mobile phones makes them a clear target for criminals.

Speaking to RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Sgt Kerins said that many phones were stolen when left in cars that are unattended when people go for a walk or run or while out and about in coffee shops.

He recommended people download a trusted app to help to find a phone and ensure PIN security is active on the phone.

Using the trusted app assists gardaí to locate the owner, as many owners cannot be located when phones are recovered, he said.

He cited the example of a woman from Trim in Co Meath, whose phone was stolen while on holiday in Co Kerry this summer.

Valerie Nohilly used a tracking app installed by her 12-year-old son to find her phone, which was later located in Co Laois.

Gardaí in Kenmare and Portlaoise worked together and within 48 hours a man was arrested and the phone was recovered during a follow-up search.

"I was astonished that my 12-year-old son had activated a tracking device a few weeks earlier. Within one hour of the phone being taken, he used my laptop to deactivate the phone," said Ms Nohilly.

"We were so fortunate that the staff in Mace in Kenmare were kind enough to put us in touch with Garda Seán Twomey, who could not have been more helpful.

"Thanks to his fast actions and those of the gardaí in Portlaoise, I was reunited with my phone less than 48 hours after it was taken."

Gardaí are advising people to contact their local station if their phone is stolen. "Do not follow the person via your tracking app," warned Sergeant Kerins.

They also urging people to add an emergency contact number to their phone, so that if the they receive a lost or stolen phone, officers will be able to contact that person.

"Our property stores throughout the country receive a lot of stolen and lost phones that we cannot trace the owners for. Adding the emergency contact will help solve this problem," he said.

Officers are also advising people to take note of their phone's unique IMEI number.

The IMEI number can be found inside the battery compartment of many phones and is located on the pull-out tray or back of iPhones.

Phone users can also access their model's IMEI number by dialling *#06# which they are then advised to save for future reference.

Gardaí say a phone can be traced back to its rightful owner more easily if they are aware of the IMEI number.