Smartphones being stolen at local bars

Published: Monday, April 8, 2013 at 10:30 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, April 8, 2013 at 10:30 p.m.

After a rash of weekend smartphone thefts, the Gainesville Police Department is warning local residents to be alert.

GPD identified a trend over the weekend of increased smartphone thefts at Midtown bars and nightclubs, and it will respond with extra patrols in the area, said GPD spokesman Ben Tobias.

About eight phones were pick-pocketed at bars and clubs mostly in the 1700 block of University Avenue, especially at Gator City Sports Grille, Tobias said.

A typical weekend involves no more than two reported phone thefts, he said.

“Usually, we see it when (phones are) left unattended,” said GPD spokesman Ben Tobias. “But here, people are realizing phones were stolen while in their purses or pockets. It was being done stealthily, so they didn’t feel or realize it was gone immediately.”

In many cases, when victims realized their phones were gone and attempted to track them using GPS apps, the batteries had already been removed or the app had been disabled.

Tobias said awareness is the primary key to prevention.

“Always know (your) surroundings,” Tobias said. “That’s the biggest thing.”

Tobias said there is not enough data to suggest the thefts were tied to a pick-pocketing ring.

“It’s one of those crimes of opportunity,” Tobias said. “I think it’s coincidental. It was just a strange spike over the weekend.”

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