THIEVES are facing instant detection on the streets after the borough’s police became the first in London to purchase portable scanners.

The handheld device scans the IMEI barcode inside the back of a mobile phone and checks it against the national property register to see if it is registered as stolen.

It can also be used to check mobile phones, laptops, MP3 players and bikes.

Officers used the Apollo machine for the first time during an operation at St Mary Cray and Petts Wood train stations.

Three people were stopped after sniffer dogs detected they had small amounts of drugs on them.

One of them was arrested and cautioned and the other two were given on the spot fines of £80 each.

No stolen mobile phones were detected during the operation on September 22.

Borough commander Chief Superintendent Charles Griggs said: “The operation is one of many throughout the year where we focus on the safety of the travelling public and tackling crime and disorder on public transport.

“What is different is the use of Apollo.

“As a portable handheld solution Apollo offers my officers remote access to the national mobile phone register whether out in the field or in the custody suite and gives us the opportunity to quickly identify stolen property.”

The purchase of the two units was funded through the £5,000 Bromley's safer transport teams received in February as a result of winning the Safer London Travel Award.

Additional funding of £3,000 came from the Safer Bromley Partnership.

Bromley police is encouraging everyone to register with the secure national property register at

This will help the police to identify items and return them to their owners if they get lost or stolen.

Anyone with information about robbery in Bromley should call the police on 01689 891212 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.