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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A CBS 3 I-Team investigation revealed that cell phone thefts rose 31 percent last year on SEPTA routes, prompting the transit authority to begin warning riders how to protect themselves.

Surveillance video shows actual cell phone robberies on a platform for the Market-Frankford Elevated Line and aboard a Broad St. Subway train.

The subway video shows a thief sizing up a passenger holding her cell phone as she is about to get off the train. Suddenly, the thief swipes the phone and runs off with the victim pursuing him unsuccessfully.

The other video shows a female passenger victimized as she waits for a train. A thief seated next to her on the platform rising, stretching, then grabbing her phone and sprinting from the scene in less than three seconds.

SEPTA says no one has been hurt in the thefts, and violent crime on the system is actually down nine percent.

SEPTA spokesperson Jerri Williams says with cell phones and other devices worth hundreds of dollars, leaving them visible amounts to waving around a handful of cash.

Williams says SEPTA officers are now offering advice to passengers on how to protect themselves and they are also passing out flyers with suggestions for keeping safe.

Because victims who lose their phones to thieves can’t immediately dial police, Williams suggests instead of waiting for the next stop, immediately summon police on special emergency call boxes located on all train cars and platforms.

SEPTA also suggested taking advantage of new applications which allow victims and police to track the phone’s whereabouts. SEPTA says the high tech system has recently helped lead to several arrests.

Watch the video…

Reported by Walt Hunter, CBS 3

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