Berkeley police have issued the following advisory this week in the wake of ongoing street robberies of smartphones:
Berkeley Police Reminder: Avoid Distracted Walking
If you’re reading this message on your smartphone while walking alone, put your phone away and look around.
Smartphone robberies from lone pedestrians at night account for the largest number of robberies in Berkeley. Some simple steps can reduce your chances of being a victim.
Don’t use your smartphone while outside. Walk with others when possible. Be aware of your surroundings.
Of the 309 pedestrian robberies last year, 63 percent occurred with people who were walking alone and 58 percent had their smartphone in their hand.
Some victims had phones forcibly taken from them. Others were convinced by seemingly friendly strangers to take their phone out of their pockets or let a stranger borrow it.
Be aware of locations and situations that could make you more vulnerable to crime – such as alleys, doorways, parking lots and stairwells.
Berkeley is not unique. Smartphone robberies have become a problem throughout the country due to their high value and easy sale on black markets. They are sold for hundreds of dollars and often shipped abroad.
Using your phone’s security features can also be a deterrent. For example, people using Apple products with the latest operating system, iOS7, can permanently disable a stolen phone using the Activation Lock feature.
Please report suspicious activities by calling the Berkeley Police Department at 510-981-5900. If it is a life threatening emergency or a crime in progress dial 911.