Police forces in B.C.'s Lower Mainland are warning the public about an increase in mobile device theft throughout Metro Vancouver, and telling owners 'to treat your phone like cash' in a new awareness campaign.

Police in Vancouver said that so far in 2013 there have been 148 reports of mobile devices being stolen with some form of violence used — on average, one incident every two days — and that that in 2012 there were 215 reported incidents of violence being used to steal a mobile device.

"These statistics are in addition to a much larger number of thefts of devices that were left unattended in coffee shops, at the gym, in schools and vehicles," Vancouver police said in a written statement.

Starting this week, authorities will begin putting up posters on streets, buses, bus and train stations and at train platforms reminding mobile device owners to be conscious of possible thefts. The cell phone anti-theft initiative is a joint effort involving the Vancouver Police Department, Metro Vancouver Transit Police and TransLink.

Anne Drennan, a spokesperson with the Transit Police said that thefts on the SkyTrain are especially a problem, with more than two dozen already this year.

Sometimes, Drennan said, two or three people will come up behind someone waiting on the train platform and steal their phone. Other times, would-be thieves ask to borrow a phone and then run off. Transit users sitting closest to doors and exits are at particular risk, she said.

The Vancouver Police Department has also produced two online videos to get their message out to the public.





With files from the CBC's Belle Puri