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How do you like them Apples?

School experiencing rash of iPhone thefts as part of nationwide trend

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Posted: Monday, October 15, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 11:42 am, Fri Apr 5, 2013.

It’s apple picking season, but not just with traditional apples in an orchard; this type of ‘apple picking’ relates to the robberies of Apple iPhones around the Wayne State campus.

Walking around campus with one’s phone planted firmly at the ear or texting while walking might not be a smart decision because over the past three months, there have been several robberies targeting people who are not paying attention to their surroundings because they are on their cell phones.

According to WSU Police Department Lt. David Scott, there were four incidents of phone stealing on campus in August and nine incidents in September. Five out of the nine robberies in September occurred within the Midtown area around Cass, Warren, Second and Forest avenues.

According to the descriptions of the victims, the incidents involved an unknown male who was riding a bike and acting alone. In all the incidents, he rode up from behind the victims and snatched the iPhones from the victims’ hands and then rode off. He later disappeared within minutes of the crime, according to Scott.

“The unique thing was they all occurred in a very small area, and in every single case, even though we arrived almost immediately, we couldn’t find the guy,” Scott said. “So our investigators looked at all this stuff and concluded that the guy lived really close by because he was off the street in a flash.”

The WSUPD was then able to work with the Department of Corrections to arrest a suspect, and they identified the suspect as a recently paroled male who was wearing a GPS tether when he committed the thefts.

This is not just a case of several people getting their phones stolen around campus, however; this is a

nationwide trend.

“This type of crime is not unique to Wayne State, not unique to Midtown, and not unique to Detroit,” Scott said. “This is occurring all across the country, especially in big cities.”

According to Scott, there are three different forms of “apple picking.”

The first example is when someone runs up from behind a person and takes his or her phone, which is what happened on WSU’s campus. The second form is when the attacker will brandish a weapon and threaten the victim. The third and final form of apple picking is when a person will run up to someone, whom the culprit might not know, and then say that they need the person’s phone to call 911 because a friend is injured. Once they are given the phone, they run off, effectively stealing the phone.

The iPhone is one of the most popular— if not the most popular— smartphones on the market, and can be resold to phone vendors for a quick profit.

When walking around campus with one’s phone, there are many preventative measures that can be taken to avoid situations like this. In the university Campus Watch email sent to all WSU students, the WSUPD advises students to be aware of their surroundings, trust their instincts and keep their head up and walk purposefully.

“The point is, don’t be that one — whatever you need to do — don’t be that one,” Scott said. “Don’t walk with your phone with your ear buds in your ears as some of these students did. The (cell phone) is very portable and very easy to snatch out of the hand. Pay attention to what’s going around.”

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