San Francisco News

Police say many cellphone robberies occur on Muni

Friday, October 05, 2012

Cellphone robberies are happening everywhere, the streets at gunpoint and now another favorite spot: Muni buses. In San Francisco, it's so bad that a review of just one Thursday night's crimes reveals that three of the seven incidents were robberies of cellphones. There were more than 4,000 robberies in San Francisco between January and August. Police say about half of them targeted cellphones and many of the thefts were on Muni.

"His palms are a little sweaty. You see how he kind of just brushes his pants?" Officer Carlos Manfredi said as he reviewed some Muni security camera videos. He has seen a lot of them. "He's checking the door again, making sure. Its got to be clear because he doesn't want her or anybody to stop him."

A woman seen at the bottom of the screen had been pre-occupied with her smartphone the entire trip. The thief who eventually stole it was sitting right behind her, keeping a close eye on his surroundings and the prize. "He's looking at the door again, making sure there's nobody's that's going to get in his way. He's looking at her phone. She's completely oblivious," Manfredi said.

The robber got ready as the bus was about to stop. It happened quickly. He snatched the phone from her hand and ran off the bus. The whole thing happened in a split-second. "You should be looking up every single time that bus is about to come to a complete stop," Manfredi told ABC7 News.

Some robbers are even more brazen. In another video, a man can be seen standing by the door, dressed in a black hoodie. Nearby, a woman was talking on her cell phone. Monfredi says the M.O is almost always the same. He snatched the phone right out of her hand even as she was talking. Manfredi says it's easy to prevent becoming a victim. "Just take a moment. Stop for a second and look from your device and look around. See who's around you. Who's standing by you?" he said.

The simple advice is to take a moment periodically and look around you. The robber will usually always stand or sit near you. Sometimes, just having eye contact with the robber may stop them from choosing you. And just before the Muni stops, you stop using your device.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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Tags:
crime, iphone, smartphones, apple, cellphone, san francisco news, vic lee
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