Two men from Brighton have been given suspended prison sentences for stealing mobile phones in a night club.
The jobless pair – Mahamadou Trawally, 41, of Richmond Place, and Eric Kamdem, 25, of Wiltshire House in Lavender Street – were found guilty after a two-day trial at Brighton Magistrates’ Court.
They were arrested by officers from Sussex Police outside Madame Geisha, in East Street, Brighton, in September last year.
Trawally was convicted of two counts of theft and given a 16-week prison sentence, suspended for two years. He was also ordered to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work and pay £250 in costs.
He was found guilty of stealing a £350 phone from an unnamed victim and, working with Kamdem, another phone from Nicole Kendall.
Kamdem was convicted of one count of theft from a person and another of theft by finding.
He was also given a 16-week prison sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered to undertake 120 hours of unpaid work.
He originally faced four charges, including stealing Nicole Kendall’s phone jointly with Trawally or receiving her stolen phone.
The other two charges were theft, including theft by finding. The charges related to a £300 phone belonging to Sarah Brosnan and a £400 phone belonging to Imogen Niewiara.
The pair were arrested as part of Operation Tealeaf – a crackdown on mobile phone thefts which started 18 months ago.
Sergeant Dave Bennett, from the Brighton Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “This is a great result and sends out a strong message that we will continue to work with our partners in targeting mobile phone thieves operating in the city centre.
“Our aim is that everyone who comes to Brighton can enjoy a night out and not have their evening ruined by people like Trawally and Kamdem.”
In April the Op Tealeaf team had magnetic versions of posters that highlight mobile phone thefts designed to go on the back of police vans.
Sergeant Bennett said: “The posters were distributed towards the end of 2012 to all the main bars and clubs but we now have magnetic versions that can be put on any police van that is patrolling the city day or night.
“Although the posters are fun to look at they do push home the right message and officers have had lots of positive comments from people when they have been out and about.
“After all, you wouldn’t leave £500 on the side of a table in a pub or club so why leave a £500 phone in the same way.
“We recognise that mobile phone theft has been a problem in the city for a while and we are taking positive steps along with our partners to deal with it and I am pleased to say it is now starting to have an impact.
“For example, in the Regency area of Brighton there were 479 reported mobile phone thefts between January and March 2012 but for the same period this year it dropped to 263.
“But this is still too high a number and we will continue to try and drive down the number of thefts and make in particular the student population aware who are quite often victims of mobile phone thefts.”