Police: Robbers Target Distracted Smartphone Users

Authorities say there has been a 30 percent rise in phones grabbed out of distracted texters' hands

Embarrassing accidents, like walking into parked cars or tripping over the curb, aside, Los Angeles police warn smartphone users that there's a new reason to take their eyes off that tiny screen.

LAPD Lt. Paul Vernon said he’s seen a 30 percent increase, year-to-year, in phones grabbed right out of distracted texters’ hands.

“Whether it’s on a phone or through text messaging on a phone, you’re not aware of what’s going on around you,” Vernon said.

Smart phones in general and iPhones in particular can be reconfigured, Vernon said, by popping out and replacing the SIM cards inside.

That means crooks can still get cash for your smartphone, even if all your information is erased.

“I hear stories all the time about people getting their phones snatched,” said smartphone user David Gardner.

Vernon said mall kiosks will sometimes offer instant cash for old electronic equipment.

“An iPhone traded in some of those machines is worth as much as a hundred dollars,” Vernon said, adding that's enough incentive for someone to take advantage of a distracted walker.

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