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Brookline, Boston & Cambridge Police Warn of Smartphone Thefts

Owners of smartphones be aware while walking alone at night, a press release says. Police also announce a joint effort to investigate.

[Update: WBZ spoke to Deputy Superintendent of the Cambridge Police, Jack Albert about the increase of smartphone thefts, which they say authorities are calling "Apple picking."

Albert reiterates the point made previously by Brookline police, saying in the interview, “So now we have a very simple message: don’t advertise the fact that you have a smartphone. Hide it, put it in your pocket.” 

Watch the video on WBZ here. May 17, 10:06 a.m.]

Smartphone owners should take note of a press release issued yesterday by the , in response to a .

Police announced a joint effort with Boston and Cambridge Police Departments to investigate and stop the trend of thefts. According to , these thefts are largely happening near the Boston/Brookline border, and iPhones seem to be the main targets. However, caution with all smartphones is advised. 

Brookline Police advise residents to avoid walking alone, and if they must, not to use listen to music while doing so. If approached for the phone, do not resist--those who have are sometimes assaulted and then robbed. 

See a full list of tips on the release below.

Many smartphones include features or have apps which will allow for tracking of stolen phones. the Brookline Police press release does not mention these apps specifically, however an iPhone user with such an app . 

Below is the full press release, which appeared on the Brookline Police Blog yesterday

BROOKLINE, Mass. – May 9, 2012 – After identifying an ongoing regional pattern of street robberies similar to a national trend targeting smartphones, Boston, Cambridge, and Brookline police are collaborating with the Boston Regional Intelligence Center to share information in a joint effort to investigate these crimes and halt future robberies.

“What we’re seeing regionally is part of a national trend where victims are being targeted due to the high monetary value of their smartphones,” said Cambridge Police Deputy Superintendent Paul Ames.  “Our departments are sharing information in an effort to apprehend suspects in these cases and make residents aware of how they can protect themselves from being victimized.”

In nearly all of the incidents across the three communities victims were talking on their cell phone and/or listening to music through headphones when they were robbed.

Using a smartphone advertises that you possess a valuable phone and also distracts you from observing your surroundings.  Police are asking residents to refrain from using or exposing their smartphones while walking alone at night to avoid being targeted. 

“Several of the robbery victims were injured, and others were assaulted after refusing to give up their smartphones,” said Brookline Police Lieutenant Phil Harrington.  “If approached, do not resist.  Find a nearby phone and call 9-1-1 immediately.

Police encourage residents to take the following precautions when walking at night:

  • Do not wear earbuds, headphones, or listen to music while walking alone.
  • Always walk with a friend or in a group when possible.
  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times and trust your instincts.
  • Walk with confidence on the street and at a good, steady pace. Keep your head up and observe your surroundings.  Don't look down at the ground.
  • If you feel you are being followed, show you are suspicious – Turn to look at the person. This sends a clear message that you will not be taken by surprise.
  • Change directions.  If someone is following you on foot, cross the street and vary your pace. If the person following you is in a car, turn and walk in the opposite direction.
  • If approached, DO NOT RESIST.  The best course of action is to hand over money and whatever other belongings are demanded and try to disengage from this confrontational and potentially dangerous situation as soon as possible. Remember, things can always be replaced.
  • Try to remember descriptive information about the robber (height, age, race, etc.) to relay to police when reporting the incident.
Grahame Turner May 11, 2012 at 06:25 PM
I'm a huge Lifehacker fan, wanted to share this, in the context of the story above: http://lifehacker.com/5909593/can-i-track-my-low%20tech-stuff-like-i-can-track-my-phone-in-case-its-stolen

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