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Metro warns of increased cell phone crimes on Blue and Green lines

By Hayley Fox
Published: Tuesday, September 25, 2012, at 12:16PM
Metro Flickr via Mark Hogan

Metro warns of an increase in cell phone thefts aboard their bus and train lines.

A recent spike in cell phone, electronic tablets and jewelry thefts on Metro bus and train lines has led to an the L.A. County Sheriff's Department increased presence on the public transit system, Metro's blog The Source reports. Many of these incidents have been concentrated along the Green and Blue light-rail lines and although force is not often used, thieves use the element of surprise to snatch the items away from transit riders.

“It’s a national trend. And we need to educate the public about how they can avoid being victims of this kind of crime,” Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Commander Patrick Jordan told the Source.

Big cities including New York, Washington D.C. and Chicago have also seen increases in these types of thefts -- with cell phones being swiped from "inattentive" riders. During the first half of the year, Metro reports a 47 percent increase in phone thefts compared to the first half of last year; equaling a total about 168 reports of phone thefts along the lines in 2012.

KPCC reports that Metro rider L.P. Simmons, who often rides the Blue Line from Long Beach, said he's "seen everything" on the train; from people selling drugs, to candy and even sex.

“A lot of people won’t report crime," he told KPCC. "They’ll just turn their heads and be apathetic,” he said.

According to Metro, the majority of crimes occur between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., and then pick up again for about an hour after 9 p.m. Officials are encouraging all riders to pay extra attention as they're getting on or off trains and buses, and to keep cell phones and other valuables out of sight. They recommend waiting for your train in an area still visible by Metro employees and the general public.

As a result of this recent trend, the Sheriff's Department has assigned a new team of deputies to ride Metro buses -- in uniform and plain clothes -- to monitor the situation and increase their presence on the Metro system.

LAPD's Lt. Paul Vernon explained in April how easy it is for a cell phone crook to steal a phone and use it for himself quickly and cheaply.

“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 said.

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