WASHINGTON -- Metro passengers may want to limit their cellphone use after new data shows an increasing number of crooks lurking the trains waiting to steal phones.
According to recently released statistics, there was a spike in 2013, and the trend was evident across the system.
"[Thieves] time it perfectly and wait for the doors to open or close," says Metro Transit Police Chief Ron Pavlik.
In 2012 there were approximately 350 incidents of cellphones being stolen across the Metro system. Last year, that number was around 550, a spike of nearly 60 percent.
"It's challenging," Pavlik says. "But it's something we're going to tackle."
As smartphone technology has gotten more advanced, the devices have become more appealing targets.
"The average person who steals it has no intention of activating it as a cellphone again. It still is a very valuable piece of equipment," explains Pavlik.
Police are redirecting resources and working to address the growing problem. Meanwhile, passengers are being urged to take some small steps, including keeping phones out of sight while on trains or at least limiting use.
Nearly all victims have been younger than 25 years old and most are female, but the crime can happen to anyone as long as thieves feels they have an opportunity.
"Be aware of what's going on around you," Pavlik says.
Below is a breakdown of the thefts that occurred in calendar year 2012 and calendar year 2013.
|CALDENDAR YEAR 2013||CALENDAR YEAR 2012|
|Total theft snatches||640 cases||490 cases|
|Theft snatch cases involve personal electronic devices||94 percent (603 cases)||87 percent (424 cases)|
|iPhones||71 percent||60 percent|
|Cellphones||20 percent||23 percent|
|Tablets||8 percent||12 percent|
|iPods||less than 1 percent||2 percent|
|Thefts of handbags, walletts, money, clothing||37 cases||66 cases|
|Male suspects||93 percent||94 percent|
|Suspects younger than 25 years old||98 percent||96 percent|
|Suspects who acted alone||76 percent||84 percent|
|Victims||69 percent women||50/50 for men and women|
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