Mobile phones are hot property for thieves in Brimbank, new crime statistics reveal.

In the year to March 31, almost 550 mobile phones valued at more than $490,500 were stolen in the municipality, according to the Crime Statistics Agency.

In the agency’s quarterly crime data, Melbourne’s CBD has most mobile phone thefts (1634), followed by Yarra (560), Brimbank (548), Greater Dandenong (508) and Hume (438). Brimbank Acting Inspector Matthew Baynes said most Brimbank phone thefts occurred at Watergardens Shopping Centre and Sunshine’s CBD.

“Generally speaking, it’s when people leave their phones on shop counters or in unlocked cars and clearly visible,” he said.

He pointed out there had been a slight drop in phone thefts this year, down 1 per cent from 554 incidents in the previous year.

Acting Inspector Baynes said most stolen phones were eventually thrown in the bin.

“They’re very rarely reused,” he said. “Some are sent overseas, but the bulk aren’t.”

North West Metro Regional Crime Squad Detective Inspector Wayne Newman urged people to report stolen mobile phones to their telecommunications providers and to block the phone’s international mobile equipment identity (IMEI).

“If we work as a community to ensure the IMEI blocking function is activated on stolen phones, we should eventually reduce the number of thefts as offenders realise they [phones] are no longer valuable,” he said.

Across Victoria, almost 13,700 mobile phones were stolen in the year to March 31.

Crime statistics for the year to June 30 reveal Brimbank is the state’s fourth worst suburban crime hotspot.

Overall crime was up 8.6 per cent in the municipality, to 19,566 offences.

Arson almost doubled, to 143 offences compared with 96 in the previous year.

Acting Inspector Baynes said most of those offences related to stolen cars that had been set on fire.

“We had an increase in stolen cars that were being burnt-out in places like industrial estate and paddocks in Derrimut and Sunshine North,” he said.

Drug use and possession in Brimbank was up 20 per cent and weapons and explosive offences were up 13.4 per cent.