Metro Transit police officers have arrested 11 suspects for committing a bold crime of stealing cell phones from riders’ hands. Four of the suspects have been charged with felony theft and are facing thousands of dollars in fines and up to five years in prison. More arrests are expected as the investigation continues.
Over the past month, cell phone theft has increased significantly, with more than 30 victims reporting the robberies to transit police. This is the most significant rash of thefts since a federal investigation into cell phone robberies led to several arrests a few years ago.
Transit Control Center Supervisors on police dispatch gathered key information about the suspects from distraught victims and pulled video of the crime. In many cases, within minutes of receiving the victim's call, police dispatch forwarded the suspects' identifying information to transit officers, who in turn spotted the suspects - out of thousands of people - while conducting fare checks.
Officers were able to return several of the phones to their owners. Some victims received their stolen phones within a few hours of being robbed. "The recovery of victims' phones, containing valuable personal information, especially one belonging to a blind victim, is priceless," said Capt. Michael LaVine.
Riders are reminded this holiday season to be aware of their surroundings and take care with their phones. Electronics are a target for thieves, especially near vehicle doors, and should be tucked away while riding. Calls should be brief and quiet.
Riders should call 9-1-1 in an emergency. Or, if anyone has a tip about a crime on transit, they are encouraged to call Transit Police at 612.349.7222.
Find more smart riding tips on our Security on Transit page.