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TMCNet:  Hartford Police Target 'Apple-Pickers,' Cellphone Snatchers

[February 26, 2013]

Hartford Police Target 'Apple-Pickers,' Cellphone Snatchers

HARTFORD, Feb 27, 2013 (The Hartford Courant - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Police have launched a multi-pronged offensive against robbers who have been yanking cellphones and other electronics out of the hands of pedestrians.

"Over the last six months, we're seen a significant increase in these types of cellphone/electronics robberies," Lt. Brian Foley said Tuesday. He didn't have numbers; police are reviewing them, he said.

The department is warning the public about the trend and taking preventive measures -- some of which are "covert" and can't be described in detail, Foley said.

The crime is called "apple-picking" -- after the type of phone that often is targeted -- and it's happening all over the country.

Some of the muggings are violent: On Monday afternoon, a group of teens approached someone in front of Hartford Public High School, punched him and stole his cellphone, police said.

Police have printed fliers that urge people to be careful when using cellphones in public. The "advisories" are printed in English and Spanish and are being distributed in schools, at major corporations and in city neighborhoods, Foley said.

Pedestrians are encouraged to be aware of their surroundings before they make calls or text.

"Displaying a phone is the same as displaying cash to a thief," the flier states.

Activity that makes people suspicious should be reported to Hartford police at 860-757-4000.

___ (c)2013 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.) Visit The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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