The problem of thieves snatching electric devices, such as Smartphones, from the hands of riders on Metro buses and trains is growing and Los Angeles County Sheriffs are working to raise awareness.
“It’s a national trend. And we need to educate the public about how they can avoid being victims of this kind of crime,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Commander Patrick Jordan.
Metro has seen a 47 percent increase in phone thefts during the first half of this year, compared with the first half of last year, authorities said. They began to increase steadily in March of this year, officials said.
Deputies describe it as a crime of opportunity. Thieves often strike when people are getting on and off trains and buses, officials said. They will quickly grab a phone and run from the train or bus.
It’s not just happening in Los Angeles County. Authorities in New York, Washington D.C., Boston and Chicago, are also dealing with these kinds of thefts, officials said.
Sheriff’s deputies provide the following tips:
- Stash phones and iPods away when arriving at or departing a station.
- Keep other valuables out of sight.
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Sit or stand in an area that remains visible to the public and other transit riders and employees.
- Take a mental note of where the emergency notification buttons are located in the stations and on trains.
Cell phone grabs most often occur between 3 and 7 p.m. and then spike again for about an hour after 9 p.m., according to officials. Most of the attacks are not armed robberies.
Victims are asked to call to call the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Transit Services Bureau (323) 563-5000. There are video cameras on all trains and buses and train platforms.
Working with photos captured from surveillance cameras, Sheriff’s deputies can search for robbery suspects.
“We catch many of the suspects responsible,” Jordan said.