MIAMI BEACH (CBS4) — A national crime trend called “Apple picking” targets smart phones and it has reached South Florida. Miami Beach Police said the Apple iPhone thefts have spiked crime statistics.
Peter Trubetskoy had his iPhone stolen at gunpoint outside a South Beach club.
“He tried to take the phone from me and I hesitated in the beginning and that’s when I realized I had a gun to my head so I gave up the phone, it wasn’t worth it,” said Peter Trubetskoy, a Coral Gables resident.
It can happen in a flash when you’re zoned out in deep conversation simply walking down the street, police said.
“In a lot of these cases, the victims are not paying attention to their surroundings, they jump out of the car, they rip it out of their hand, or they put a gun to them,” said Sgt. Bobby Hernandez with Miami Beach Police.
Smart phone thefts have become violent strong armed robberies.
“This is a very valuable thing that you’re holding. And it just takes a quick 10 seconds and they’re gone and they made a quick buck off of you,” explained Sgt. Hernandez.
A booming black market business for thieves yields $300 to $400 for a stolen, reprogrammed, iPhone 5.
Sergeant Hernandez said this type of crime isn’t going away.
“There are people programming these phones. And obviously there’s somebody making money beside the person who’s selling. They’re selling that phone to somebody and that’s where the investigation is going.”
Miami Beach Police have made eight arrests for “Apple picking”.
“That’s just the beginning. We suspect we will have more arrests,” said Sgt. Hernandez.
Trubetskoy doesn’t expect to get his phone back. “Maybe I might one day, but not any time soon, I don’t think.”
An important tip from police is to not call your service provider and turn the service off because when it is deactivated, police won’t be able to use their technology to find it.