Violent smartphone thefts increase in Montreal

Montreal Police arrest 5 minors linked to cellphone thefts
Violent cellphone thefts in downtown Montreal increased by 71 per cent between 2010 and 2011. (istock)

Montreal Police arrested five minors this morning in an operation targeting cellphone thieves.

Police said the minors, who are between 15 and 17 years old, were part of a network responsible for at least 10 incidents.

The thefts all took place at Montreal's Honoré-Beaugrand metro station. 

The arrests are the result of Operation Match, an investigation into cell phone thefts that has been ongoing since October.

Police have searched three homes and two school lockers linked to the accused.

The teenagers could face charges including intimidation, assault, harassment and armed robbery.

A statement released by the Montreal police said the theft of cellphones is often a violent crime. Violent cellphone thefts in downtown Montreal increased by 71 per cent, from 142 thefts in 2010 to 243 in 2011.

Chief Const. Jim Chu, president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, hopes new initiatives launched against smartphone theft will help deal with the rapidly growing problem.

"It was too simple. A stolen smartphone could be reactivated on another wireless carrier’s network — no questions asked." he said.

The creation of the Stolen Smartphone Database will allow the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association to keep track of stolen phones and stop thieves from reactivating them.

Montreal police are warning people to keep an eye on their smart phones and electronic gadgets.