Cops on Alert for iPhone “Apple Picking”

Smartphone thefts are up 30-40 percent nationwide, authorities say

It's mid-September 2012 and there are two apples that are hot items: the honeycrisp variety from Minnesota and the new iPhone 5 out of Cupertino.

To combat unlawful "apple picking" of the latter, authorities say they've already begun ramping up their patrols.

"There's an expectation there's going to be a bit of a spike [in thefts]," said Commander John Graeber with the Chicago Police Department's Public Transportation Sector.

As fanboys and girls exited the Apple Store adjacent to the North and Clybourn stop on the Chicago Transit Authority's Red Line, officers were keeping a watchful eye.

"Just to oversee people walking out with that brand new bag that might an opportunity for someone," said Graeber. "It happens so fast most people are stunned."

The New York Police Department actually launched an anti-Apple picking ad campaign near Apple stores and helped customers register their iPhones in case of a theft.

"Its terrifying," said Megan Shincarik, who had her iPhone snatched by a group of kids who distracted her and swiped it right off the cafe table. "I'm on the lookout now."

Smartphone thefts are up 30-40 percent nationwide, authorities said.

Last year, a church deacon died after she was pushed down the stairs by a robber trying to get away after stealing another commuter's iPhone.

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