Supervisors look for solutions to smartphone thefts


How much attention do you pay when you're walking down the street texting or talking on your cellphone?

"I see this lady walking across the street, cars coming at her, she doesn't look up at all," cellphone user Angel Bacon said.

That inattention could make you the victim of a crime of opportunity. Thefts of cellphones, iPads and laptops are soaring. Theives snatch and go before people can even look up.

San Francisco police says half the robberies in the city are now cellphones. Thursday, Supervisor Scott Wiener held a hearing to get an update on what's being done to prevent the crime.

"We can't expect people never to use their phones and iPads, that's the reality of modern life," he said. "So we just all need to be careful and that we are aggressively going after these criminals."

The district attorney's office says it's currently pursing nearly 400 cellphone crime cases and is in talks with the cellphone industry on how to make their products less valuable to thieves.

"Whether it can't be used or more easily tracked, there are so many different areas where we can work with the industry to make them a less attractive option," Chief Assistant District Attorney Sharon Woo said.

Cellphones aren't just being grabbed from people on the street. Nearly 400 Muni passengers reported thefts last year. That's why the transit agency rolled out a public awareness campaign and now has fare inspectors give a heads up to the clueless.

Some cellphone owners have gotten the message through the misfortune of others.

"They were just with girlfriends walking down the street, someone asked if they had the time, then someone came from behind and grabbed the cellphone," cellphone user Christina Johnston said.

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