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Police Warn Of Cell Phone Thefts In Minneapolis

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(credit: CBS) Esme Murphy
Esme Murphy, a reporter and Sunday morning anchor for WCCO-TV, h...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s a crime wave happening around the country and it’s hitting the Twin Cities hard.

Thieves are stealing smart phones — sometimes right out of the hands of the owners while they are on the phone.

Minneapolis Police are urging smart phone owners to take precautions. They say there were more than two dozen cases in a small area of downtown Minneapolis in one month.

Many people get wrapped up in their cell phone conversations as they walk down the street.

And that is often when smart phone thieves are pouncing.

“If you are just walking down the street and your little world is your cell phone and you are not paying attention to who is around you, your phone is easily going to be taken away from you,” Minneapolis Police Sgt. William Palmer said.

Last December, Wilson Olsrud and his friend were walking through a downtown Minneapolis parking lot when they were attacked. Their cell phone and wallet were stolen.

“To be attacked like this and violated against, it was very scary,” Olsrud said.

Police and cell phone providers are urging consumers to take precautions.

First, make sure your smartphone has a lock or passcode set on it. It won’t keep your phone from being stolen but it will protect personal information.

On smartphones, you can download apps called “Find My iPhone,” which can track where a phone is. And make sure you or your provider have a record of your phone’s serial number.

Sgt. Palmer said having the serial number could help you get your phone back.

“It’s entered into the NCIC, National Criminal Information Center’s, computer system and if it’s found it can be returned to the rightful owner,” Palmer said.

Sgt. Palmer said awareness is key.

A lot of phones are being stolen when people put them down in a bar or a coffee shop. And then there is one of the oldest tricks in the book. Thieves are going up to unsuspecting victims with the line that their own cell phone is out of batteries, asking if they could borrow one to make a call. Then they run off with them.

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