Details of a recent rash of street robberies in Cambridge targeting smart phones were included in the city's BridgeStat crime statistics report this month. Graphic courtesy of the Cambridge Police Department.
Police in Brookline, Cambridge and Boston are warning residents about a recent increase in the number of street robberies targeting smart phones.
The recent robberies in the region are part of a national trend police are seeing, as thieves are targeting people for phones they can then sell for several hundred dollars, said Cambridge Police spokesman Dan Riviello.
Riviello said Cambridge had seven reports of similar robberies between March 8 and April 26, and that in most instances the iPhones were stolen, though a couple of Android smart phones were stolen, too.
The phones are so expensive and there is such a market for them, Riviello said. People dont really know the value of what they are carrying with them.
Riviello said police in Cambridge, Boston and Brookline are working together to investigate any connection in the smart phone robberies.
In a joint press release Wednesday, police said that in nearly all of the incidents across the three communities victims were talking on their cell phones or listening to music through their headphones when they were robbed.
In Brookline, police said four cell phone robberies were reported between March 28 and April 27, and iPhones were specifically being targeted.
In the joint press release with Boston and Cambridge Police Wednesday, Brookline Police Lt. Phil Harrington said several of the robbery victims were injured and others were assaulted after refusing to give up their smart phones.
Harrington said people should not resist if they are being robbed, but should then find a nearby phone to call 911. Police are also asking residents to refrain from using or exposing their smart phones while walking alone at night to avoid being targeted.
Police issued the following precautions for people to take when walking at night:
Do not wear earbuds, headphones, or listen to music while walking alone.
Always walk with a friend or in a group when possible.
Be aware of your surroundings at all times and trust your instincts.
Walk with confidence on the street and at a good, steady pace. Keep your head up and observe your surroundings. Don't look down at the ground.
If you feel you are being followed, show you are suspicious Turn to look at the person. This sends a clear message that you will not be taken by surprise.
Change directions. If someone is following you on foot, cross the street and vary your pace. If the person following you is in a car, turn and walk in the opposite direction.
If approached, DO NOT RESIST. The best course of action is to hand over money and whatever other belongings are demanded and try to disengage from this confrontational and potentially dangerous situation as soon as possible. Remember, things can always be replaced.
Try to remember descriptive information about the robber (height, age, race, etc.) to relay to police when reporting the incident.