CRIME

iPhone, Apple thefts up in NY

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A popular electronics brand has grown to be just as popular among thieves.

Around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Montgomery County police responded to a Verizon store near Route 355 and Middlebrook Road for an iPhone theft.

Investigators say the suspect entered the store and took an iPhone 5 from the display case. He was last seen running near the Roy Rogers.

But Apple products aren't just being stolen from stores. Brazen thieves are taking them from customers, as well.

"Macbook Air, iPhone 5, iPhone 4, iPod, iPod Nano, iPod Touch...,"said Apple fan Kayden Horwitz, naming the Apple products he owns. "They're very valuable things for thieves. Their resale value is very high; they're commodities."

Horwitz is right. New York Police Department statistics show more than 11,400 Apple products have been ripped off this year, up 40 percent from last year. The thefts make up most of the overall increase in burglaries, thefts and grand larcenies in the nation's biggest city.

NYPD officials portray the thefts as an aberration in an otherwise low-crime year: Murders are on track to reach record lows.

The NYPD set up booths outside Apple stores last weekend to help iPhone buyers activate tracking technology to recover lost or stolen phones. Subway warnings tell passengers to remain alert and keep devices out of sight.

D.C. has yet to see an increase in personal electronics thefts, but police departments across the D.C. area are on alert.

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier issued this statement on the spike in New York Apple product thefts:

"In April of this year, the FCC Chairman Genachowski joined Senator Schumer, DC Mayor Gray, State Police Departments and wireless carriers to announce new initiatives to combat massive smartphone and data theft...The wireless industry committed to implementing these changes next month. Consumers can protect themselves by being aware of their surroundings (meaning walking without distractions and paying attention to who is around you) and by participating in the wireless industry’s program so that we can eliminate the black market sales of stolen electronics."

Georgetown Public Safety recently sent out a notice to students, warning them of smartphone thefts.

Claire McCluskey, a student at Georgetown, said, "They're not violent crimes, but there have been a lot of crimes; students walking with their phones, people snatching them away."

In Prince George's County, police braced for the launch of the new iPhone 5.

"The iPhone's always been a hot phone that people have gravitated to... It's very popular on the market," said Prince George's County Police Corporal Maria Mckinney.

Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple Inc. says the recently released iPhone 5 topped 2 million sales the first day.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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