A recent report from SF Examiner claims thieves in San Francisco are devising some clever new ways to steal smartphones from unsuspecting citizens. And people aren’t acting alone—whole teams are allegedly being formed for these mobile heists. Now more than ever, smartphone owners need to be very diligent about when and where they use their device.
According to the report, people have very specific rolls in these rogue groups, with one person even acting as a “good Samaritan.” One of the tactics includes a thief slapping a phone out of someone’s hand while it’s out. If you’re not expecting the malicious high five, chances are your grip won’t be very tight. When the phone drops, the thief will pick it up while other nearby accomplices block the victim from chasing after their phone. The final person will then chase the thief down, retrieve the phone, and return it. But before they do, they’ll ask for a reward for their effort.
An odd side effect to the increased smartphone theft, which has been a thorn in the industry for some time, is that narcotics arrests are down. San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr believes the prevalence of smartphones means low-lifes have multiple targets to go after each day. Smartphones bring in gainful returns on the black market, though it’s becoming increasingly tough for thieves with tracking technology now available for most devices. Maybe that’s why groups are going through the trouble of stealing and then returning handsets for cash rewards.
The new method is being referred to as “slap, grab and run” by police, and it’s becoming increasingly popular among San Francisco thieves, which means it’s likely happening elsewhere, too. The main point is to be cautious when you’re out in a busy city, and keep your devices secure.