Smartphones driving violent crime across US

On Feb. 27th in the middle of the afternoon, a 16-year-old girl was walking through San Francisco’s Mission district when she was ordered at gun point to hand over her cellphone. The robbery was one of 10 serious crimes in the city that day, and they all involved cellphones. Three were stolen at gun point, three at knife point and four through brute force.

Mobile phone theft accounts for a rising number of property thefts.

Incidents of cellphone theft have been rising for several years and are fast becoming an epidemic. IDG News Service collected data on serious crimes in San Francisco from November to April and recorded 579 thefts of cellphones or tablets, accounting for 41 percent of all serious crime. On several days, like Feb. 27, the only serious crimes reported in the daily police log were cellphone thefts.

In just over half the incidents, victims were punched, kicked or otherwise physically intimidated for their phones, and in a quarter of robberies, users were threatened with guns or knives.

(An interactive map showing six months of cellphone and tablet thefts in San Francisco can be viewed here)

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