Metro Transit Police Chief Ron Pavlik urged riders to be cautious when using electronic devices on Metro due to a recent spike in thefts, according to a Metro news release.
Metro recorded a 48 percent increase in thefts during a two-week period ending Aug. 7 compared to the previous two weeks. During the most recent reporting period, there were 40 reported snatches of items including iPhones, iPads, Kindles and Android phones.
"We are not waiting to see if this becomes a trend," said Chief Pavlik in a statement. "We are taking immediate, proactive steps to protect the riding public, but we also need riders to do their part."
Transit police monitor crimes and reallocate resources in response, according to the press release. Undercover officers use decoy devices while on the system and arrest any thieves who try to steal them.
But Pavlik urged riders to prevent crimes of opportunity by being alert and smart about their device usage. Many crimes happen to passengers near train doorways and even on escalators where thieves can make a quick escape.
"The best advice is to keep your device out of sight, but if you do choose to use it, maintain constant awareness of what's happening around you," he said.
Additionally, he advised passengers to set up tracking software for their devices to help officers track down a phone or remotely wipe personal information to prevent a thief from using it for additional illegal activity.
Metro provided the following snatch theft facts:
- More than two thirds of snatch theft victims are women. Most suspects are male (95 percent), and 82 percent of the suspects are believed to young adults between the ages of 14 and 20.
- Nearly 60 percent of all snatches involve Apple iPhone devices.
- Snatch thefts can occur at any time – on a platform, outside the station, or even in the middle of a rail car. However, roughly 87 percent of all snatch thefts occur within the Metrorail system. Snatches on Metrobus account for about 13 percent of the total.