Cell phone thefts on the rise in Charleston - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Cell phone thefts on the rise in Charleston

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Officers warn shoppers to keep a close eye on cell phones Officers warn shoppers to keep a close eye on cell phones

It is no secret that cell phone thefts are a nationwide epidemic. During the holiday season, the problem always seems to grow bigger.  

"The criminals know it's like fishing, that you've got a better chance if there are more people there," said Lt. Steve Cooper with the Charleston Police Department.  

More than 200 cell phones have been reported stolen in Charleston this year. For many criminals, it is the ideal item to steal.  

"As technology has increased, these phones have become more valuable," said Cooper. "They have more capabilities and they have a higher resale value."  

Last week, Charleston police arrested two people at the Town Center Mall and charged them with larceny. Officials say most smartphone thefts are nonviolent in nature. The victims will leave their phone unattended on a table, when a criminal feels that no one is looking, they'll quickly swipe it away.  

"Just as you don't lay a checkbook, a credit card, or cash away on a counter and walk away from it, you don't lay your cell phone out and walk away from it" said Lisa McCracken, the marking director at Town Center Mall.  

Police have increased the number of uniformed officers to ward off criminals. Undercover operations are also being implemented.  

"They don't know who we are," said Cooper. "They are unsuspecting as they try to steal cell phones and we catch them in the act."  

Officers also say they've seen a slight increase in burglaries involving jewelry and portable electronic devices. Car break-ins are also common. The best way to protect yourself is by locking your doors and keeping valuables out of sight.

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