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Watch Just How Bold Thieves Have Become on Washington's Metro System

Police report a sharp spike in thefts on the train system serving Washington and its Virginia and Maryland suburbs. And the Metro train system is not alone.

Whether touring or commuting, be cautious when using electronics on Metro trains and platforms. Patch file photo.
Whether touring or commuting, be cautious when using electronics on Metro trains and platforms. Patch file photo.

The nation's capital, and everywhere its trains go, has an iPad problem. More precisely, it has an iPad theft problem.

In fact, tourists and residents of Washington and its sprawling suburbs in Virginia and Maryland who use the Metro train system have had not only iPads snatched from their hands but also iPhones, Kindles, Android phones and just about anything else electronic.


And the problem is getting worse, not just in Washington but on trains and stations in many parts of the world.

Metro Transit Police Chief Ron Pavlik has urged riders to be cautious when using electronic devices on Metro due to a recent spike in thefts like the one shown in the video with this story.

Metro recorded a 48 percent increase in thefts during a two-week period ending Aug. 7 compared to the previous two weeks. During the most recent reporting period, there were 40 reported snatches of electronic devices.

"We are not waiting to see if this becomes a trend," Chief Pavlik said in a news release. "We are taking immediate, proactive steps to protect the riding public, but we also need riders to do their part."

The Oregonian reports that when Apple debuts a new iPhone model, for example, New York City police said they see a spike in subway thefts. San Francisco unveiled "be smart with your smartphone" posters on city buses.

In London, users of "the tube" subway system are warned of "gadget grabbers."

Back in Washington, Transit police monitor crimes and reallocate resources in response, according to the news release. Undercover officers use decoy devices while on the system and arrest any thieves who try to steal them. 

But Pavlik urged riders to prevent crimes of opportunity by being alert and smart about their device usage. Many crimes happen to passengers near train doorways and even on escalators where thieves can make a quick escape.

"The best advice is to keep your device out of sight, but if you do choose to use it, maintain constant awareness of what's happening around you," he said. 

Additionally, he advised passengers to set up tracking software for their devices to help officers track them down. And he's urging the numerous victims to remotely wipe personal information to prevent a thief from using it to victimize them even more. 

Metro provided the following snatch theft facts:
  • More than two thirds of snatch theft victims are women.  Most suspects are male (95 percent), and 82 percent of the suspects are believed to young adults between the ages of 14 and 20.
  • Nearly 60 percent of all snatches involve Apple iPhone devices. 
  • Snatch thefts can occur at any time – on a platform, outside the station, or even in the middle of a rail car.  However, roughly 87 percent of all snatch thefts occur within the Metrorail system.  Snatches on Metrobus account for about 13 percent of the total.
tom reese August 16, 2013 at 08:36 PM
A sign of the times, as mentioned in the Philadelphia area. Why are we putting up with this? Wake up America!
CalmTruth August 16, 2013 at 08:52 PM
Keep up with your snatches, people.
Jeannette Hudson August 16, 2013 at 09:38 PM
LOL @ Calmtruth
John Keith Kennedy August 17, 2013 at 12:35 AM
I like Prey to keep track of devices but it is not the only one out there. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.prey&hl=en
robert wilson August 17, 2013 at 07:18 PM
Scum bags.
Phil Collins August 18, 2013 at 07:19 AM
Once had a pay phone stolen while I was using it.
Ken Jones August 18, 2013 at 09:42 PM
Not a problem here in Florida , perhaps they should consider allowing law abiding citizens to carry guns in DC !
CalmTruth August 19, 2013 at 10:14 AM
Ken - We don't kill children in DC. And we know that in Florida, "law abiding citizens" is code for people who don't get caught or brought to justice.
gr vo August 19, 2013 at 11:38 AM
sneaky sob
gr vo August 19, 2013 at 11:42 AM
Yes, Calm truth, and we all know that 14-20 yr. old males are media code for BLACK. If this were the middle east, most "14-20 yr old males" would be walking around with their hands lopped off by the legal system. Notice the punkass sneak is dressed well. So don't come back and say, oh he just a po boy. He also had an accomplice cause they're afraid to do anything mono e mono
Paul Nichols August 20, 2013 at 08:25 AM
Too bad the riders aren't armed. Take a couple out and the perps might think twice about accosting decent people.
gr vo August 20, 2013 at 09:35 AM
The country of INDIA has a severe problem with unwanted guests snatching food off the shelves of the local people. The species waits for the person to look away, then when you don't suspect anything wham... the damn little monkey makes off with a slice of pizza or equivalent. If you have ever seen this phenomena on TV, you can relate the above technique as identical.

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