Metro Transit Police reports “In the two weeks from Jan. 13 through 26, a total of 31 electronic devices were snatched on the Metro system”


Photo by PoPville flickr user Mr. T in DC

From MTPD:

Remember how great you felt when you got that new high-tech device over the holidays? Now imagine how you’d feel if it were snatched out of your hands in an instant. That’s the message Metro Transit Police want customers to consider while riding on the system, following an uptick in snatch thefts in the post-holiday period.

In the two weeks from Jan. 13 through 26, a total of 31 electronic devices were “snatched” on the Metro system — an average of just over two per day. The figure is down from the same period last year, when 44 snatch thefts were reported, but is still an increase from the first two weeks of the year, which had 19 snatch thefts.

“You wouldn’t walk around in public with $300 cash in your hand,” said Metro Transit Police Deputy Chief Ron Pavlik. “That’s essentially what you’re doing when you’re holding an expensive phone or tablet device.”

Metro has supported recent initiatives to dry up thieves’ ability to resell stolen devices, including the new ability to render a device useless once stolen, known as “bricking.”

“Thanks to the leadership of Senator Schumer, Mayor Gray and (MPD) Chief Lanier, victims of cell phone robberies now have the ability to render their phone inoperable,” said Metro Transit Police Chief Michael Taborn. “This is a big step forward in the fight against cell phone theft.”

Metro also has used innovative tactics, such as undercover decoy operations, to take thieves off the street.

Metro Transit Police remind customers to follow these common-sense tips (after the jump)

• Keep your high-tech devices out of sight.
• White or red headphone cords are often a telltale sign that you have an expensive device on you. Consider changing the cord to a less conspicuous color.
• If you choose to use an electronic device, avoid becoming distracted by what is on the screen. Always maintain an awareness of what is happening around you.
• When holding an electronic device, use both hands to make it more difficult to snatch.
• Always avoid using electronic devices near train doors. Many robberies take place as the doors are closing, allowing the thief to get away.
• If your device is stolen, immediately report it to police and contact your wireless provider. Under a new law, wireless carriers can render your device useless, thereby eliminating the resale value to the thief.
• Use the password feature on your device to protect any sensitive information.
• Take advantage of GPS tracking features on many devices that can remotely lock, wipe and locate your phone or tablet.
• Never resist or chase a thief. No device is worth the risk of personal injury.

25 Comment

  • That’s why I have a cheap smart phone and insurance.

  • you mean Metro Transit Police under reports

  • “• Keep your high-tech devices out of sight” = make sure to wear a full burqa or chadri to ensure that no passing men are uncontrollably aroused with passion and jump on you.

  • The best way to counter theft is to not buy expensive devices to begin with…

    Why do ppl carry an iPod and a iPhone and Mac Book Pro on them everywhere? Because of irrational consumerism. People steal these devices because they’re popular and because they carry high price tags. Buy stuff that’s NOT popular. That way if it’s stolen it will be easier to identify as well. Carry a phone charger with you, you don’t need an extra ipod, and you don’t need to make loud calls while walking down the street or riding on the train, you attract attention that way…

    I have been living in DC for years and the rule of being “street smart” in any city is to turn your “car stereo down” before you get close to home. – This also means “Tucking yo chain”.

    We’re in a bad economy people. Be street smart.

    • “irrational consumerism” – the three products you mentioned all just happen to be (arguably) the best in their class for many consumers – in other words, “rational consumerism”.

      If you’re trying to make the point that consumerism in and of itself is largely irrational, well, that’s another topic altogether.

      • well put.

      • Though they may be all industry leading products, carrying all three at the same time on metro is the “irrational” part I was referring to, because there’s a good chance they’ll get stolen. Using white earbuds lets thieves know you’ve got an iPhone… Get a ratty set of headphones and keep the device in your pocket to be less conspicuous… Street Smarts.

    • You think these things are getting snatched because we’re in a bad economy? That’s precious.

  • has “phone bricking” fully kicked in yet? i’d think that would dry things up quickly…

  • i use my iphone to read books!! i read on the metro. i’m not going to NOT use my device b/c of thieves. that’s ridiculous. what i will do is be aware of my surroundings. i hold on to my phone tightly and try to look around each time the train pulls into a station and opens its doors. and i don’t stand by doors. i’m doing the best i can. i’m not trying to be a showy consumer (aren’t iphones ubiquitous now?). i’m reading great books!

    • I read books that I buy from book stores or borrow from the library. Nobody has ever tried to steal one from me.

  • jim_ed

    TL;DR version:

    MTPD sure ain’t going to bother to A) stop the thieves or B) investigate the robberies, so if your phone gets stolen, its your own dumb fault for having the audacity to use it in public.

    • Agreed, but I think it’s more of a PSA, as a lot of people do really dumb things and then wonder why bad things happen.

      • Honestly, I think it’s sad that using your phone in a public space has become “a dumb thing to do.” Not saying I do it- I don’t for this very reason, but it’s pathetic that I have to be scared of being shot over my phone. I hope the so-called “bricking” will help make stealing electronics less attractive to these punks.

  • yes MTPD are under-reporting and under-investigating these crimes but the advice to take steps to make your device less easy to steal is smart.
    You don’t have to lock it down by fort knox – just make it less desirable than your fellow metro riders’ devices.

  • Do you know how much a car costs? Why do you just drive it around with windows that can be broken? I mean, the carjacking is basically your fault!

    • Hahaha. When I first moved to DC I used to be so OCD about where my car was parked and had to check on it all the time. People thought I was crazy, and maybe I was a little, but as I explained to them it was the most expensive thing I owned and it was just out there on the street unprotected.

  • Metro Transit Police should remember to follow this common-sense tip: try enforcing truancy laws for a change.

  • Male Stalker- Possibly Dangerous
    Description: 40-55 year old man, tall (~6’-6’3’’), lanky/thin, Caucasian (but not pale), balding at the top and center of his head with very thin light brown hair in the back, thin metal round (Harry Potter-shape) glasses, light colored eyes (semi close together), large pointy noise, tends to swivel head often but not suspected to have Parkinson’s- it’s more of a confused looking-around
    I’ve unfortunately encountered this man one too many times on the metro. I believe he creeps on girls (especially blondes as I am one and have witnessed him preying on another blonde on the same train as me) who catch his eye around the Orange line area especially on the metro.
    1st Incident: morning rush hour @Metro Center station orange line to New Carrollton- He was continuously staring at me to a point of me feeling threatened and extremely uncomfortable
    3rd Incident: mid-end November 2012 after work day @Rosslyn to Foggy Bottom Orange line- He literally followed me off the same cart of a metro train despite him being in mid-squat about to sit down in seat when he realized I was getting off the train. Immediately after I exited the train, I boarded the train across the platform. The doors shut and I spotted the man looking confusedly around on the platform, standing in the same place, when he made eye contact with me through the train doors and stared at me until my train departed.
    4th Incident- Inauguration weekend evening time @ Kramerbooks in Dupont during Inauguration weekend where he was completely uninterested in books, drinks or food. He walked in by himself and only stared oddly at people (including myself and my roommates with whom I was waiting for a table) for ~25 minutes before leaving by himself without buying or eating anything.
    5th Incident- morning rush hour @Metro Center Orange line to New Carrollton- I was alone on the platform waiting on NC train for ~4min, then train approached and I boarded, sat down, looked up and suddenly the man was there when I had not noticed him no the platform yet he boarded behind me onto the train. He would not stop staring at me even after I stared back at him to communicate that I was feeling threatened by him. He kept staring and was looking at my things, so I did not want to pull out any personal items or give him any hints of who I was. I felt so threatened I exited the train at Smithsonian station, where he continued to stare at me through the window- sitting in the seat I was just in- until the train departed.
    I have called Metro Police Department who recommend taking a picture of him and reporting him. The police cannot currently act upon this report because no physical harassment has been committed. I am not one to keep riding the metro to wait until that does happen. Please contact police if you see this man.
    Note that no verbal communication has been made so there is no voice description for this man. He wears casual slacks, layered professional jackets, and solider black gym shoes. Beware of this man as it is suspicious that he may mental issues and can be dangerous (possibly schizophrenia).

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