‘Phone snatching’ a new crime
by GREG KAYLOR, Banner Staff Writer
Mar 25, 2013 | 3172 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
THESE THREE people are considered persons of interest by police after someone took nearly $18,000 in cellphones from a local business. A trend of similar robberies has been reported in other states as well.
THESE THREE people are considered persons of interest by police after someone took nearly $18,000 in cellphones from a local business. A trend of similar robberies has been reported in other states as well.
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Certain personal electronic devices are more commonly called “smartphones.”

Most know them by that name, according to detective Matt Ruth of the Cleveland Police Department. Law enforcement increasingly knows them as popular targets for theft.

“We depend heavily on our phones to help regulate our schedules, provide information in an instant, keep up with family and business, and many other things in our lives,” Ruth said.

The theft of nearly $18,000 in cellphones from a local Radio Shack was recently reported.

Ruth said a trio came into the store located at 2753 Keith St. last Wednesday.

While the lone store employee reportedly aided who he thought was a customer, the alleged offenders breached a secured area and took 30 smartphones.

“Phone snatching has become a prominent crime,” Ruth said.

Police reports are commonly filed regarding cellphone thefts, according to Ruth.

Media reports from across the nation indicated that brazen “snatchings” occur frequently and instead of demands for cash, cellphones or “PEDs” are the target.

One media story from San Francisco noted that 50 percent of reported robberies indicated that PEDs were the target.

In a report to Crime and Courts, an NBC writer quoted San Francisco Police Capt. Joe Garrity.

“This is your modern-day purse snatching,” Garrity said.

The Wall Street Journal reported recently the “nation’s major wireless providers have agreed to build a central database of stolen cellphones — part of a broad effort to tame an explosion of thefts nationwide.”

PEDs can house personal information such as banking, credit or other information.

This can lead to identity theft, according to Ruth.

Although the robbery/theft at the Radio Shack in Cleveland will not yield personal information due to the fact the phones were in stock and not activated, the trend has increased regarding the thefts of the high-tech devices.

Ruth said diversions such as the ruse the trio used at Radio Shack are common.

Ruth also said reports from Knoxville, Texas, Kentucky and other cities have noted large-scale phone snatchings such as the one which occurred here.

The thieves took 11 iPhone 5 models, six iPhone 4 models, 10 iPhone 4-s models and six Samsung Galaxy III phones.

Security footage was obtained by crime scene technician Shane Clark.

“We feel confident someone can identify these three people who are suspects in the theft,” according to Ruth.

The 30 phones stolen were valued at $17,797.82.

Anyone having information can contact Ruth at 559-3320.