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Growing Trend: More Thieves Snatching Cell Phones Right Out Of Victims' Hands

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- A brazen cell phone theft--caught on camera. It's a quick and easy crime that's becoming too common across the nation and even here in Baltimore.

Linh Bui has details on this dangerous spike in robberies.

Baltimore Police say the vast majority of street robberies now involve cell phones. The latest incident on a D.C. Metro train shows how quickly thieves can strike.

Watch as the suspect stands next to the victim and snatches the phone right out of his hands, then the thief takes off.

"I don't pull it out on the trains or nothing. Let nobody see it or nothing because there is theft out here, as far as taking cell phones," said Ranzinka Spain, Baltimore City.

Cell phone thefts have spiked nationwide. This week, Baltimore City Police increased patrols to fight the recent wave of cell phone robberies.

"A lot of the victims in these cases are distracted for one reason or another. And the suspects are moving in very, very quickly. They're committing the robbery and then fleeing the incident," said Dep. Commissioner John Skinner, Baltimore City Police.

Incidents have been reported in Little Italy, the Hopkins hospital campus and Roland Park.

"Keep my head up more. Just glance down and keep looking around. Make sure no one is out to snatch it from me," said Justin Wood, Baltimore City.

More than two-thirds of snatch theft victims are women. Most suspects are male, between 14 and 20 years old. And nearly 60 percent of the time, they're stealing Apple iPhones.

Don't become a victim. Treat your cell phone like you treat cash. Keep it out of sight. But if you have to use it, hold it tightly with both hands so it's harder to grab.

"I put it in my bag. Then when I get off, sometimes I might take it out, sometimes I won't even take it out until I get home," said Carla Peters, Baltimore City.

Police say always pay attention.

"To make sure they're walking in well lit areas when possible. To walk in groups when possible. Not to advertise the fact that they have a cell phone. And be aware of your surroundings," said Sgt. Eric Kowalczyk, Baltimore City Police Department.

So you're not the next victim.

Baltimore City Council members are also working on a ban to keep phone kiosks out of the city. Those machines give you money in exchange for cell phones, which has led to more robberies.

According to the Federal Communications Commission, one in three robberies nationwide now involves taking a phone.

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