Las Vegas police warn about thieves targeting iPhone users
A new warning from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department - something most of us carry at all times, could be a dangerous target.Photo: Video by ktnv.com
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- A new warning from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department -- something most of us carry at all times could be a dangerous target.
Criminals are going after iPhones and iPads while people are using them. Metro reports more than 50 of these thefts in the past few months. Investigators believe this crime spree is fueled by a group of thieves that are working together.
So far, Metro officers have arrested Justin Profit, 18, and Joe Cardenas, 24.
"These suspects were specifically looking for people who weren't paying attention," says Sgt. Joshua Bitsko.
Sgt. Bitsko and Officer David Walker are leading the investigation. They say in some cases, the suspects asked to borrow a phone, then ran away with it. In other cases, they rip the iPhone or iPad right out of a person's hands or snatch it off a table, then take off.
"In most instances, they had the phone and were in the getaway car or around the corner before the targeted person even stood up," Bitsko describes. "They move fast."
Police believe there's a whole network of thieves tied to Profit and Cardenas, who are still working the streets and fleeing with phones.
"They can go to several businesses in town that will buy the stolen phones, no questions asked," Bitsko says. "They can get hundreds of dollars for each phone. For as long as they can keep getting money for them, this trend is going to be hard to stop."
The stolen gadgets are also being sold on websites like craigslist.
"What makes them especially hard to trace is that iPhones and iPads don't come with external serial numbers," says Officer Walker. "Subscriber details and other information can be completely wiped from the devices. There's really no way of tracking them once that happens."
"The key is for people to be aware," Bitsko says. "Know this is going on. Once someone has your smartphone, they don't just have the device. They have all your personal information. Things like your email, passwords, contacts, and bank account information."
The investigation started when patrol officers with Metro's Enterprise Area Command noticed an increase in reports of stolen iPhones. Some victims and witnesses also provided suspect descriptions, getaway vehicle descriptions, and license plate numbers. That eventually helped lead detectives to the suspects.
Metro says the investigation is ongoing and more arrests are on the way.