Leeds city centre crook caught with stolen phones worth £9,000

A prolific offender who was caught in possession of 13 stolen mobile phone worth £9,000 in Leeds city centre has been jailed.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 20th January 2017, 8:13 am
Updated Friday, 20th January 2017, 8:17 am

Sofane Yakr was heavily involved in the theft of mobile phones from bars and venues in the city.

West Yorkshire Police officers stopped Yakr in the city centre on October 31 and found the phones in a bag he was carrying along with £600 in cash.

Yakr was also carrying fake Belgian and Italian identification documents and had a small amount of cannabis.

At the time of the the offence, Yakr was on bail after being stopped by British Transport Police officers on October 1 and found with three mobile phones.

Thirteen of the phones have been returned to owners who had completed the emergency medical details on the devices.

Yakr, 23, pleaded guilty to possession of criminal property, two offences of possession of false identity documents and possession of cannabis.

Robert Stevenson, mitigating, said Yakr is an Algerian national who had come to the UK as an asylum seeker in 2012.

Mr Stevenson said Yakr began offending as he was unable to work and developed a drink problem.

The Recorder of Leeds, judge Peter Collier, QC, jailed Yakr for 16 months.

After the case, Inspector Andy Berriman, who heads the City Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “Yakr is a prolific offender and is clearly someone significantly involved in the theft of mobile phones from people in city centre venues both in Leeds and elsewhere in the country.

“We quickly established that the 13 iPhones were stolen - eight in Leeds and five in Birmingham. We were greatly assisted in tracing the owners of those phones due to them having completed the emergency medical ID details on the health app facility on the phone.

“We were able to reunite the owners with their stolen phones without the need for lengthy enquiries with phone companies and it also meant we were able to progress the investigation more quickly against the suspect and reduce the risk of him reoffending.

“We would encourage other people to complete those details as it is a quick and easy method of identifying their phone if it is stolen or to assist in a medical emergency.

“We hope this case will also serve as a warning to people to take care of their valuables as unfortunately there are professional thieves targeting the city centre specifically to steal phones from people while they are distracted.”