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Police warn of cell phone thieves

Police have received 16 reports since Sept. 15 in which people have been tricked into handing over their cell phone to strangers.  - Meto Creative Services photo
Police have received 16 reports since Sept. 15 in which people have been tricked into handing over their cell phone to strangers.
— image credit: Meto Creative Services photo

Richmond RCMP is warning the public not to hand cell phones over to strangers after a rash of recent thefts.

Distraction techniques of one form or another are being used to trick people into handing over their cell phones to strangers, police say.

“With the price of cell phones these days you would think that they would be the last item voluntarily given to a total stranger but it’s just not the case” said Cpl. Sherrdean Turley, media relations officer for Richmond RCMP.

Police have received 16 reports since Sept. 15 in which people have been tricked into handing over their cell phone to strangers. Only one out of the 16 incidents involved a cell phone being forcefully removed from a victim.

“We’ve been fortunate that no one has been seriously injured but the potential for someone to get hurt is definitely there,” Cpl. Turley said.

Investigators say that 13 of the incidents had the following similarities:

•The suspects ask to borrow the cell phones and then flee with the phone in hand.

•There are three recurring suspects in their late teens to early 20s,

  1. Caucasian male, 5’4”- 5’6” tall, medium to chubby build.
  2. Caucasian male, 5’8”-5’10” tall, thin build.
  3. Black male, 5’9”-5’10” tall, thin build.

•The thefts occur with a combination of one or two of these suspects.

•The victims are all Asian females in their late teens to early 20s, with the exception of two files.

The incidents are occurring at varying times throughout the day but for the most part are occurring in the evenings.  They are occurring downtown from Cambie Road south to Park Road, and  from No 3 Road east to Garden City Road.

“We’ve shared this information with the entire detachment and have ensured that the officers that regularly patrol this area have these incidents at the forefront of their minds”, said Cpl. Turley.  “We’re urging the community do the same.  The bottom line is please don’t give your cell phone to anyone you don’t know.”

Anyone with information about these incidents or anyone that would like to report suspicious behavior is asked to please contact Richmond RCMP at (604)278-1212.  If you wish to remain anonymous, please call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

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