Cell phone thefts becoming a problem in Richmond

It’s not surprising that with cell phones being as expensive as they are nowadays, they are becoming a prime target for thieves. It’s the same as when I was back in school and certain “rare” collectables (such as Pokemon cards) were the targets of theft because they could be sold for more money. It’s sad that people like that exist, but it’s one of those facts of life we have to deal with. The important thing is to learn how to protect ourselves.

Since September 15th, there have been 16 reported cases of cell phone thefts in the city, the majority of which were allegedly committed by the same group of individuals. According to the victims, one of the thieves will ask to borrow a cell phone and will walk off to “make a call” while the other two distract the mark. They then run away before the victim can do anything.

The alleged thieves have been targeting the areas around¬†Cambie Road south to Park Road and from No. 3 Road east to Garden City Road. They’ve preyed mostly on young Asian girls.

Thankfully only one of these thefts involved the phone being taken by force, and no one has been seriously injured…yet.

There’s an easy solution here: don’t let strangers borrow your phone. It sounds harsh, perhaps a bit extreme, but it’s just the logical thing to do. Many people, particularly younger people, have smartphones these days, and more often than not these phones aren’t cheap. More than that though, these phones are more than just simple devices anymore, and often people run large aspects of their daily lives from that handheld device. Need to send an email to your boss? There’s an app for that. Need to check Twitter? App. Want to listen to music? App. Forgot what you needed to pick up at the grocery store? App. Need to check your calendar to make sure you’re not forgetting any appointments or assignments? App. So again, not only are these phones crazy expensive, they are important pieces of many peoples’ lives.

Would you let a stranger borrow your car? What about your wallet? No, you would not. Why then are people letting complete strangers, a GROUP of strangers no less, borrow an expensive cell phone?

The sad part is, there are likely many cases where someone might need to borrow a cell phone. Maybe theirs ran out of juice, or they don’t have quarters for a payphone. Whatever the case, it’s bad apples like these current bandits in Richmond that destroy our ability to trust in our fellow man.

Thankfully due to the innovation known as GPS, there are now apps out there that can help you track your phone if it gets stolen. Apple for instance has an application called “Find My iPhone” that allows the user to track their phone’s location on the computer, send a message to the phone, lock the phone so the thief cannot use it, and even erase the phone entirely so their information doesn’t get leaked. The thing is though, the user needs to actually set up the application first. If your phone gets stolen first, the user is still out of luck. Even with the app though, return of the phone isn’t guaranteed.

Anyone with information on these current cell phone thefts in Richmond is asked to contact Richmond RCMP at 604-278-1212 or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

So keep a tight grip on your cell phone people. You may feel bad denying a seemingly innocent request from a stranger, but at least you will still have your phone at the end of the day.

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