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Cellphone thefts up 32% in Downtown compared to last year

By Tony Pierce
Published: Friday, April 13, 2012, at 07:57PM
iPhone phone KPCC app Tony Pierce / KPCC

An iPhone sitting unattended in the wild. Apple has made one of the most popular cell phones... for thieves to steal.

Cellphone thefts have jumped 32% in Downtown for the first quarter of 2012, the LAPD is reporting.

The one square-mile Skid Row area has an even more pronounced problem with 54 phones absconded during that period. Only 115 cellphones were reported stolen in Skid Row in all of 2011.

“If that trend continues, we’d see an increase in of 144% by the end of 2012,” Lt. Paul Vernon, commanding officer of the Central Division said in a news release.

"It made us ask, what's going on?" said Vernon.

The trend is just as bad in the Fashion District where 10 phone thefts have been reported this year. It is an area where 27 were taken in all of 2011.

Near 5th Street and Broadway, seven phones have been already been stolen this year while only 13 were swiped last year.

This week the US's four major wireless providers have agreed to help build a central database of stolen cellphones to help stymie what has become an epidemic of crime.

Currently cellphones are stolen more than cash.

Years ago a stolen phone was of value for just a brief period of time, as once the phone was reported missing, the service provider could simply turn it off - rendering it useless to most thieves. Today, advances in technology actually makes it easier for pickpockets and burglars to turn your phone into theirs quite simply.

“A crook can snatch an iPhone, replace the SIMM card with one from a pay-as-you-go phone, and have a brand new, latest-generation phone for himself,” Vernon explained.

Police warn against leaving phones on tables or loaning them to strangers. Instead they recommend placing phones in pockets, purses, or bags when not in use. They all suggest not texting or talking on your phone while you walk as you may be distracted from the evil that may be lurking behind you.

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