"A lot of these are just snatch-and-grabs, where they don't see the person who took the phone from them, so it's harder for us to identify them," said BART Interim Police Chief Ed Alvarez.
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In a video released by BART, a victim can be seen seated while looking at their phone. Seconds later, a suspect grabs their phone and runs out of the train.
"We're getting a lot of cellphone thefts. People are not paying attention and are holding their phones," said Alvarez.
BART police officers are raising awareness about this crime by handing out cards on the trains between the Embarcadero and Balboa Park stations in San Francisco this week.
The index-card sized handouts include three tips:
Warning: Cellphone thieves on Bart; 402 reports since January. #Bart police handed out cards to raise awareness:— Luz Peña (@LuzPenaABC7) May 28, 2019
Protect your phone!
📱Near train doors
📱Put away during stops
📱Be aware of your surrounding @abc7newsbayarea pic.twitter.com/NoLG1Kd6dW
Protect your phone!
1. Especially near train doors and while waiting on the platform
2. Put it away or at least secure it when approaching stops
3. Be aware of your surroundings at all times
"That was a really good reminder because I probably wouldn't have even thought about it if it wasn't for it," said BART rider Angelina Dimarinas.
Out of the 402 reports, BART police have arrested 29 suspects. But when it comes to getting your phone back, the stats are very low.
"(People should) have their phone registered, so in case the phones get stolen, they'll have the serial number and they'll have the tracking device. Unfortunately, when they take the phones, they turn them off," said Alvarez.
This year alone, BART hired 26 officers and are looking to fill 22 vacancies. They say preventing this crime is high on their list.
"Those phones on the black market, on the resale, are going for $300-$400. That's why the business is so lucrative."
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