Over 100,000 mobile phones and laptops left in UK bars each year

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New study reveals that life size skeletons, inflatable elephants and over a hundred thousand mobile phones are just some of the things left in UK bars each year.

Just in time for the Christmas party season, a new study from internet security firm ESET has revealed that UK bars guzzle up a staggering 138,000 mobile phones and laptops each year, and alarmingly 64 percent of the devices do not have any security protection installed, which means anyone can gain access to the contents they hold.

As part of the study ESET phoned over 600 bars across the UK in order to establish how many phones and laptops are found each year. The results showed that on average 12 phones or laptops will be found in each bar across the UK annually. However, the good news is 83 percent of the bars involved in the study revealed that the majority of devices they find do get reunited with their rightful owner.

Commenting on the findings from the study, Mark James, security specialist at ESET, said: “As we head into the festive season offices will be preparing for Christmas parties, which will inevitably involve alcohol consumption and people dropping their guard more than usual. This could also mean people taking work laptops and mobile phones along to parties and, based on the figures from our study, accidentally forgetting them when they leave for home. While the majority of the devices in our study do get returned to their owners there is still a high chance that those with no security protection are accessed by intruders. As our laptops and mobile phones begin to carry more and more sensitive information and are linked to bank and work accounts there is a greater need to protect them because the risks are much higher should the devices ever fall into the wrong hands.”

Other findings from the study revealed that upon finding a device 61 percent of bars made contact with the owner by accessing it, while only 18 percent said they handed the device into the police. In addition to this, when survey respondents were asked if they had a snoop around the device if they found it unlocked worryingly 60 percent admitted to doing so.

“While it is fantastic news that so many of the devices in our study got reunited with their owner what people need to ask themselves is what information did the person who found the device access before it was returned. I imagine the majority of people who find a phone or laptop will actually have a look around and see if there is anything of any interest or value to be found. What people need to start asking themselves is – could any of the data held on my mobile or laptop compromise me either personally or professionally if it fell into the wrong hands? If the answer is yes, which I expect it will be, then security on your device must be a priority, not an afterthought,” continued James.

And finally, when survey respondents were asked about unusual items that had been left behind in bars over the last year some of the most alarming objects included:

  • Someone’s ashes
  • A child
  • Numerous pairs of shoes
  • A tree
  • An inflatable sheep
  • A giant picture of a horse


Research Methodology

ESET conducted outreach via phone to more than 600 bars in the U.K. in November 2015 and extrapolated these figures based on 11,162 bars in the UK according to Yell.com.