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SEPTA Police Ramp Up Measures To Catch Cell Phone Thieves

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By Syma Chowdhry

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Calling all cell phone thieves: SEPTA police “got your number.”

A new criminal trend called “apple picking” has SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel on high alert.

“It’s continuing to plague us, and we want to address it as well as we can,” he says.

The number of phone thefts on trains and buses is the same compared to this time last year. But this year, more arrests have been made.

“We’ve been moving faster getting information out to officers,” Nestel says.

On Sunday evening, police say four men were involved in snatching a cell phone on the Broad Street Line at the Fairmount stop. They were caught on video running through the station.

Three of the suspects were arrested within 30 minutes; the fourth was caught within 90 minutes.

“We are looking for those persons responsible for stealing the phone right away, and for hours after,” Nestel explains.

SEPTA uses thousands of surveillance cameras to keep an eye out – which means they are watching at all times.

Chief Nestel suggests riders equip themselves with an app like Find My Phone to help track it down in case it’s stolen.

And Apple will offer a system upgrade this fall that will render phones useless.

“A wonderful paperweight if it’s stolen,” says Nestel, “but we can’t wait for that.”

One man who had his iPhone stolen three months ago at SEPTA’s 11th Street Station says he learned his lesson.

“I don’t walk through the subway with my phone out now,” he says.

Other SEPTA riders tell us they will do their best not to become a victim.

“I should stop texting and walking at the same time,” said one person. “I think I might just put it away right now.”

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