Though serious crimes declined 7 percent in Savin Hill over the last year, Boston police are concerned about a rash of street robberies of cell phones and IPods.
District C-11 Capt. Richard Sexton told a recent gathering of residents at the Harp and Bard in Dorchester that iPod and cell phone thefts had become a major problem.
"It's a serious concern because some of these robberies have involved firearms," Sexton said. "Just for the iPods and the cell phones and what-not."
Sexton recalled that recently his officers arrested a young man with a pellet gun after receiving a 911 call about someone who the caller believed had robbed two people with a firearm.
Overall, some major crimes such as commercial burglaries and automobile thefts decreased substantially last year, but the number of residential burglaries increased, Sexton said.
At the meeting, long-time resident Peter McNamara, who 30 years ago founded an email alert system of neighborhood crime, warned that people can't rely on the police to be in all places at once.
"Do not walk along the street with these devices [cell phones and iPods] exposed and pay attention to where you are," McNamara said. "There's no way that the police can be at every corner of the city. You have to take some responsibility too."
The police urged commuters not to walk out of the T with headphones on because it made them targets. Officers even advised residents to withhold from using cell phones and earphones when they're on the train.
In May, a teen was shot and killed on the platform at the Savin Hill T station.
Ailine Baustita, 15, a sophomore at Cristo Rey High School on Savin Hill Avenue, said she feels safe using the T every day to get to and from her Hyde Park home. Although she thinks the thefts are bad for the area, Baustita said she is continuing to use her cell phone and iPod when riding the T.
"Nothing's happened to me," Baustita said. "But if it did happen to me honestly, then I wouldn't use anything."
Sexton said that people who use their cell phone or iPod on the train or walking around at night are prime targets for petty crimes and hopes people take his advice for their own protection.
"I think some follow it but I think a majority don't, because I think the over popularity of all these devices," Sexton said. "That's our advice. That's what we tell people. We hope people follow it at least to protect themselves, number one, and to protect their property."
Police intend to deploy more officers in the area if the petty crimes don't subside.
This article is being published under an arrangement between the Boston Globe and Emerson College.