SEPTA Police warn of increase in phone theft
PHILADELPHIA - March 15, 2012 (WPVI) -- It should come as no surprise that the meteoric rise of cell phone use as been accompanied by a meteoric rise of cell phone theft.
Septa police are trying to help stem the tide.
SEPTA has noticed a rise in cell phone theft among subway riders and has surveillance video evidence of just how quickly it could happen.
Riders have witness cell phones being snatched right out of passengers' hands.
"Someone snatched it out of their hand and ran when they were changing their song on their music player or something," said Austin Garrity. "They just took the phone and ran."
SEPTA Transit Police have seen cell phone thefts and robberies more than double since 2008 as more people not only carry them, but near-constantly use them.
"It is not just Philadelphia, it's not just SEPTA, this is a phenomenon that's happening all over the country," said Deputy Chief David Scott.
Cell phones and iPads are especially easy pickings around the sliding doors. Thieves can grab and go, and passengers are left pulling away from the station empty handed.
"Shouldn't have your cell phone out in the open," said Deputy Chief Scott. "It's like flashing $2,300 in your hand."
But transit police are cracking down, hoping to reverse the upward trend.
Surveillance cameras hang overhead and flyers are handed out to riders who also hear warnings over the public address system.
Some passengers have gotten the message.
"I always keep it in my top pocket or in my bag," said one passenger.
Deputy Chief Scott says prime-time for these thieves is between 1:00pm and 6:00pm when kids are out of school.
There are a lot of people on the trains, and he says the best thing you can do then, and any time really, is be aware of your surroundings.
Scott says high crime areas tend to run from City Hall to the North Philadelphia station, as well as Frankford Transportation Center to Huntington Station.
In the meantime, he says transit officers are making a physical presence in these areas hoping to deter this type of crime and other crimes for commuters.
cell phones, ipad, iphone, theft, philadelphia, pennsylvania, local/state, katherine scott
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